We've Lost So Much Antarctic Ice It's Causing A Dip In Earth's Gravity

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An ESA satellite has spotted something unusual happening in the Antarctic: As the ice has dwindled there over the last five years, they're also seeing a change in the Earth's gravity.

The GOCE satellite was launched in 2009 to undertake a detailed mapping of Earth's gravity, along with any fluctuations in strength. As researchers recently began analyzing the data they'd received, they noticed something curious: the variations in gravity they were seeing in the Antarctic were mirrored by the changes in ice as the collapse of the ice sheet there accelerated.

You can watch the dip in gravity occurring between 2009-2012 in West Antarctica in this visualization ESA put together:


Of course, the fluctuation is noticeable only via satellite, not on the ground. Still, it's one more way to note just how terrific the amount of ice that we're losing each year is. Now we can measure the ice we're rapidly losing in a variety of ways: By volume, by changes in our maps, by landmass, and even by changes in the Earth's gravity.

Visualization: ESA.

Top image: ravas51