New Zealand Glaciers Are Melting Away

Posted: Mar 11 2017, 3:34pm CST | by , in News | Latest Science News

 
New Zealand Glaciers are Melting Away
The image shows Mueller, Hooker and Tasman glaciers on New Zealand's South Island on January 2017. Credit: NASA/ASTER

NASA satellite images compare the snow cover 1990 to 2017

New Zealand glaciers are melting at a rapid rate and this rapid decline is attributed to small avalanches that lead to ice loss and glacier collapse. With global temperatures continue to get warmer; there is no sign of turnaround.

Two NASA satellite images compare New Zealand glaciers from 1990 to 2017 and reveal staggering changes in snow cover over the course of data collection period. The 2017 image was acquired on Jan. 29 while 1990 image was acquired on Jan. 12 by NASA/USGS Landsat. The images include the Mueller, Hooker and Tasman glaciers that are among 12 large glaciers in New Zealand.

New Zealand is home to more than 3,000 glaciers and most of these glaciers are located in the Southern Alps of the South Island. The glaciers have been retreating since 1890 and a previous survey suggests that more than 30 percent of permanent snow and ice on the Southern Alps has disappeared within just four decades. This melting is another example of how global warming is affecting the environment.

The latest NASA observations are the result of ASTER which is one of the five Earth-observing instruments installed on Terra satellite and it was launched Dec. 18, 1999. The observations by ASTER are critical for understanding the loss of ice and what we can do to avert it.

“The broad spectral coverage and high spectral resolution of ASTER provides scientists in numerous disciplines with critical information for surface mapping and monitoring of dynamic conditions and temporal change.” NASA scientists wrote in website.

New Zealand glaciers are very sensitive to warming temperatures. If warming trend continues, these glaciers will mostly disappear and it would have serious consequences on future sea level rise and acceleration of climate change.

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