Antarctica losing ice 6 times faster today than in 1980s, research shows

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"As the Antarctic ice sheet continues to melt away, we expect multi-metre sea level rise from Antarctica in the coming centuries", PTI quoted Eric Rignot, professor at the University of California, Irvine in the United States, as saying. In the past 40 years, Antarctica's contribution to global sea level rise has only been a half an inch.

This 2016 photo provided by NASA shows the Getz Ice Shelf in Antarctica.

In the study, glaciologists from NASA'S Jet Propulsion Laboratory, the Netherlands' Utrecht University, and the University of California, Irvine, found that this accelerated melting caused worldwide sea levels to rise above half an inch over the past 40 years, said a University of California, Irvine press release.

"As climate warming and ozone depletion send more ocean heat toward [the sectors of Antarctica losing the most ice], they will continue to contribute to sea level rise from Antarctica in decades to come", Rignot said. A rise of 4 meters (about 12 feet) would be enough to put many coastal towns and cities underwater and submerge much of South Florida.

An global team of scientists from the University of California, Irvine (UCI), NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL), and Utrecht University in the Netherlands conducted the "longest-ever assessment of remaining Antarctic ice mass".

Data came from high-resolution aerial photographs taken by NASA planes, along with satellite radar from multiple space agencies.

The PNAS study estimated that Antarctica lost 169 billion tonnes of ice from 1992-2017, above the 109 billion tonnes in the same period estimated a year ago by a large global team of researchers.

Since 2009, Antarctica has lost nearly 278 billion tons (252 billion metric tons) of ice per year, the new study finds.

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Climate change isn't slowing down on Earth: Antarctica's ice melting rate has increased by 240 percent, prompting scientists to assess how greenhouse gases are negatively impacting the planet.

Rignot said, '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. 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 fragility found in areas of East Antarctica - which holds the largest ice sheet on Earth - warrants more attention, Rignot warned.

That's what the new research says is happening.

Traditionally the western side of Antarctica has been the biggest source of anxiety among scientists. In fact, a major analysis published last June - which most of the new study's authors participated in - concluded that on the whole, East Antarctica hasn't been losing ice at all.

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.

The pace of melting rose dramatically over the four-decade period. In particular, Rignot says, key parts of East Antarctica, which has been the subject of less focus from researchers in the past, need a much closer look, and fast.

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