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Climate Change and Melting Ice are Shifting the Polar Poles
Every year since 2005, the North Pole has shifted several centimeters, and researchers have now attributed those rapid changes to climate change. While the location of each pole is always in seasonal flux, researchers from the University of Texas at Austin used data from NASA’s Gravity Recovery and Climate Experiment (GRACE) to establish that the melting Greenland Ice sheet and other ice losses are responsible for the accelerated yearly polar drift.
Lead author of a new study in Geophysical Research Letters, geophysicist Jianli Chen said of the polar shift over the last eight years: “There was a big change.”
GRACE monitors changes in the earth’s gravity field, which can be used to track the redistribution of weight caused by changes in ice and water levels. Using this data, Chen and his team determined that the melting Greenland Ice sheet and other ice losses are 90 percent responsible for the rapid shift of the North Pole towards Southern Labrador in Canada.
While consequences of the shift are uncertain, scientists say that GRACE can at least help to monitor changes in ice and sea levels. In the meantime, check out these photographs of what different cities will look like if sea levels rise by 25 feet.
images © NASA
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