Science

Antarctica ice melting increased by 280% in last 16 years, study says

Antarctica ice melting increased by 280% in last 16 years, study says”

The Antarctic shed an average of 40 gigatons of ice mass annually from 1970 to 1990.

Antarctic melting has raised global sea levels more than 1.4 centimetres between 1979 and 2017, said the report in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS), a peer-reviewed U.S. journal, on Monday.

First measured in the late 1950s by UW-Madison glaciologist Charles Bentley, the West Antarctic Ice Sheet alone contains enough ice to raise sea level by roughly 5 meters.

"As the Antarctic ice sheet continues to melt away, we expect multi-metre sea level rise from Antarctica in the coming centuries" with continued man-made global warming, he wrote in a statement. Researchers believe the accelerated melt could cause sea levels to rise at a quicker rate than predicted in coming years.

Furthermore, the study shows how the East Antarctica region has played a significant role in the trends that were identified.

"The places undergoing changes in Antarctica are not limited to just a couple places", Rignot told the Washington Post.

To recreate the history of the ice sheet, Meyers and Levy turned to the geologic records surrounding Antarctica and linked them to more distant deep-sea marine sediment cores containing the fossil shells of ocean dwelling microscopic organisms known as foraminifera, or forams. "That, to me, seems to be reason for concern". They estimated annual snowfall and measured the speed of ice discharging out to sea to estimate how much ice each of Antarctica's glaciers sent out to sea each year.

In the last ten years, the study found West Antarctica was responsible for 63 percent of the total loss, East Antarctica contributed 20 percent and 17 percent of the total loss was from the Antarctic Peninsula.

That study found the massive basin would start melting again, with a sustained temperature rise of just two degrees Celsius the cap called for in the landmark Paris climate deal to avert runaway global warming.

"In the decades to come, it is likely that sea level rise from Antarctica will originate from the same general areas", researchers noted, resulting in feet of sea level rise if climate change isn't combated. (A gigaton is 1 billion tons.) From 2009 to 2017, about 252 gigatons per year were lost.

"The Wilkes Land sector of East Antarctica has, overall, always been an important participant in the mass loss, even as far back as the 1980s, as our research has shown", he said. Accordign to a study the yearly loss of ice from Antartica has increased by an alarming rate of 280 per cent between 2001 and 2017. Essentially, the researchers subtracted data on how much ice flows into the ocean each year from data on how much snow falls on the continent.

The bottom line is that Antarctica is losing a lot of ice and that vulnerable areas exist across the East and West Antarctic, with few signs of slowing as oceans grow warmer.

"The traditional view from many decades ago is that nothing much is happening in East Antarctica", Rignot said, adding, "It's a little bit like wishful thinking".



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