More dry, less ice

By Country News

Data from new satellites has produced troubling snapshots of the recent drought in Australia while confirming a significant loss of ice in Antarctica.

Researchers from the Australian National University found parts of NSW, Queensland, South Australia, Tasmania and much of Western Australia were drier in December 2018 than they were during the millennium drought.

The millennium drought, which lasted from 2001 to 2009, is considered the worst since European settlement and the new data ‘‘points to worrying times ahead’’, lead researcher Paul Tregoning said.

Further, the researchers believe the Totten Glacier region of Antarctica has lost 1.4billion tonnes of water — enough to fill 570000 Olympic swimming pools — which was stored as ice.

‘‘This is very concerning, since a destabilisation of the ice sheet in that region could affect the global sea level by many metres,’’ Dr Tregoning said.

The data came from two sets of NASA GRACE satellites, some of which were decommissioned in late 2017 before a new cohort was launched in May 2018.