GREENBELT, Md., Nov. 10 (UPI) -- A U.S. space agency study using satellite data has determined the annual ice mass lost from Gulf of Alaska glaciers has been 84 gigatons annually.
Researchers said the study established the most precise measurements to date of global warming effects in Gulf of Alaska glaciers.
The team, led by geophysicist Scott Luthcke of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration's Goddard Space Flight Center, said the Gulf of Alaska is expected to be a significant contributor to global sea level rise during the next 50-100 years.
The study found the annual ice mass lost from glaciers in the Gulf of Alaska has been about five times the average annual flow of the Colorado River through the Grand Canyon and equal to the entire amount of water in the Chesapeake Bay.
"The Gulf of Alaska region is 20 times smaller than the ice-covered area of Greenland, yet it contributes nearly half as much freshwater melt as Greenland and accounts for about 15 percent of present-day global sea level rise stemming from melting ice," said Luthcke. "Considering the Gulf of Alaska makes such a disproportionate contribution, it is vital that we know more about the nature of glacial change there."
The research team's findings are detailed in the Journal of Glaciology.