Antarctic ice melt has tripled in five years

The western edge of one of the largest icebergs ever recorded it broke away from the Antarctic Peninsula last year. The continent’s rate of ice loss is speeding up contributing even more to rising sea levels according to a new study. (NATHAN KURTZ  NY

The western edge of one of the largest icebergs ever recorded it broke away from the Antarctic Peninsula last year. The continent’s rate of ice loss is speeding up contributing even more to rising sea levels according to a new study. (NATHAN KURTZ NY

Satellite surveys showed that, prior to 2012, Antarctica lost ice at a steady annual rate of 76 billion tons and contributed 0.2 millimeters per year to sea level rise.

Prof Andrew Shepherd, from Leeds University and a lead author of the study on accelerating ice loss, said: "We have long suspected that changes in Earth's climate will affect the polar ice sheets". Globally sea levels are rising by about 3mm a year.

"The ice sheet is now losing three times as much ice". Altogether, 13,000 square miles of ice shelf area has been lost since the 1950s.

The Atlantic noted this week that millions of people on the U.S. East Coast could be displaced from their homes by the end of the century because of melting in parts of western Antarctica ― which scientists have identified as being the source of most of the recent melting.

Scientists just revealed how fast Antarctica's ice melted over the last years. This rate increased when almost 241 billion tonnes of ice was lost from 2011 till 2017, according to a study in the journal Nature.

In order to reach these conclusions, scientists looked at ice loss in 24 different ways using 10-15 satellites, in addition to air and ground measurements and computer simulations.

DeConto said, "Emerging science is pointing to more extreme worst-case scenarios with regards to sea level rise from Antarctica, but the good news is that a reduction in emissions, in line with the aspirations of the Paris Climate Agreement, dramatically reduces the risk of flooding our coastlines in future decades and centuries".

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A team of researchers on the German research icebreaker Polarstern have successfully mapped an area of the seafloor previously covered by ice. Horwath's institute at TU Dresden, commented the study: "The added duration of the observing period, the larger pool of participants, various refinements in our observing capability and an improved ability to assess both inherent and interpretive uncertainties, each contribute to making this the most robust study of ice mass balance of Antarctica to date". Sea level rise is a threat to cities from NY to Shanghai as well as low-lying nations from the Pacific Ocean to the Netherlands. None." The Times explains: "Dale said that global carbon emissions from energy had risen by 1.6% last year, after three years of "little or no growth".

They say Antarctica and the Southern Ocean are closely coupled to the rest of the globe and so change in the region will have widespread consequences for the Earth and humanity.

"We can not count on East Antarctica to be the quiet player, and we start to observe change there in some sectors that have potential and they're vulnerable", said Velicogna.

Coastal flooding during storms at high tides will be more damaging and a threat to cities, from NY to Shanghai as well as low-lying nations from the Pacific Ocean to the Netherlands. Ice, thick enough in many places to bury mountains, covers a continent roughly the size of the United States and Mexico combined.

"The next piece of the puzzle is to understand the processes driving this change", Durham University's Pippa Whitehouse said.

"The kinds of changes that we see today, if they were not to increase much more. then maybe we're talking about something that is manageable for coastal stakeholders", Rob DeConto, a researcher not involved in the study, told The Washington Post.

Nevertheless, it is a grim warning that climate change is beginning to occur more so than ever, and we're approaching a time where we won't be able to turn back unless we drastically change the way we think about the environment.

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