Imagine what happens when a person stands up from a nice, soft chair, relieving the pressure created by a 200-pound body. In response, the compressed cushions spring back to their former state. That's exactly what’s happening to mountains in the Patagonia region of South America as glaciers melt at an alarming rate, according to Discovery News
The new GPS-based measurements from Patagonia’s southern ice field showed that the mountains grew at a rate of 39 millimeters — or 1.5 inches — per year between 2003 and 2006. The discovery was reported in the latest issue of the journal Earth and Planetary Science Letters.
"Before I saw this article I would have said the highest rate (of mountain growth) was at Glacier Bay, Alaska," said Bruce Molnia, a veteran glacier researcher and geologist with the U.S. Geological Survey. The growth of the mountains in Patagonia outpaced those in Glacier Bay by .2 inches per year, based on measurements from 2005.
The top culprit in the record glacier melt and the resulting mountain growth is none other than global warming. "In Patagonia, glaciers are retreating faster now than they have ever retreated formerly," said Erik Ivins of NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory and a co-author of the Patagonia article. Ivins went on to tell Discovery News, “There is an immediate response with ice loss and ground rising — at the speed of seismic waves.”