Thursday, July 23, 2009

Massive glacier in sub-Antarctic island shrinks by a fifth

Terra Daily, via Agence France-Presse: One of the biggest glaciers in the southern hemisphere shrivelled by a fifth in 40 years, French scientists said on Wednesday. The Cook glacier on Kerguelen, an island in France's southern Indian Ocean territories, covered 501 square kilometres (193 square miles) in 1963.

Combining satellite images with other data, glaciologists from the Laboratory for Studying Geophysics and Space Oceanography estimate the glacier lost an average of nearly 1.5 metres (4.9 feet) in height each year by 2003, shedding almost 22 percent of its original volume. In terms of area, the glacier shrank by 1.9 sq. kms. (0.74 sq. miles) per year from 1963 to 1991.

Thereafter the loss doubled, to 3.8 sq. kms (1.48 sq. miles) per year. By 2003, the glacier covered only 403 sq. kms (155 sq. miles), a retreat of 20 percent compared with 1963….

Cook Glacier (Kerguelen Islands) south rim, shot in 1983 by B.navez , Wikimedia Commons, under the Creative Commons Attribution ShareAlike 2.5 License

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