Antarctic ice is melting faster than ever: scientists


Antarctic ice is melting faster than ever: scientists

Media playback is unsupported on your device                  Media caption Pippa Whitehouse

Media playback is unsupported on your device Media caption Pippa Whitehouse"Push a balloon filled with honey- it rebounds when you remove your hand

They discovered that Antarctica is now losing ice about three times faster than it did until 2012, climbing to a rate of more than 241 billion tons (219 billion metric tons) per year.

"The increasing mass loss that they're finding is really worrying, particularly looking at the West Antarctic, the area that's changing most rapidly and it's the area that we're most anxious about, because it's below sea level, " said Christine Dow, a glaciologist at the University of Waterloo in Canada who was not involved in the research. They say that by 2100, Antarctica's melting ice alone could contribute to the rise of sea levels by six inches, or 15 centimeters.

Experts monitoring the ice levels have revealed that Antarctica is losing 200 billion tonnes a year of ice.

Around 219 billion tons of ice were lost annually between 2012 and 2017, according to the Washington Post. However, in the last five years, it too has begun to lose ice, perhaps as much as 28 billion tons per year, although the uncertainty surrounding this number remains high. Then the melting accelerated significantly, and since 2012 the rate has jumped to more than 241 billion tons a year - adding 0.6 mm per year to sea level rise.

As part of IMBIE, Professor Shepherd coordinated with 83 other scientists, from 44 worldwide organizations, to combine the data from two dozen different satellite surveys for this comprehensive look at the changes in Antarctica's ice mass balance. The continent is split into two regions by the Transantarctic Mountains: West Antarctica, which is smaller, is mainly composed of frozen Islands, while East Antarctica makes up two-thirds of the continent and is colder and more remote.

The Antarctic ice sheets are melting many times faster than previously thought, significantly increasing the rise of global sea levels in recent years, according to a new research by a group of United States and UK scientists.

The annual sea level rise that's attributed to Antarctica has tripled, from 0.2mm to 0.6mm, or from less than a tenth of an inch to almost a quarter of an inch, he says.

"The satellite measurements tell us that the ice sheet is much more dynamic than we used to think", he said.

Most of this ice loss has come from West Antarctica. "This does not mean that at current atmospheric carbon dioxide levels, Antarctica won't contribute to sea level rise". "We will not necessarily see exclusively rapid retreat, " said Christianson, noting that as glaciers like Pine Island retreat backwards down a submarine, downhill slope, they will sometimes encounter bumps that slow down their movement.

Andrew Shepherd of the University of Leeds, who leads the Ice sheet Mass Balance Inter-comparison Exercise (Imbie), said it had always been suspecting changes in Earth's climate would affect the polar ice sheets. "The future of Antarctica is tied to that of the rest of the planet and human society", said Steve Rintoul, of the Centre for Southern Hemisphere Oceans Research in Hobart, Tasmania, and one of the research team. The new findings hint that the continent's ice cover may not be as resistant to warming as once thought, and present a very different picture of Antarctica's potential contributions to a rising ocean: Consider that if all of Antarctica's ice melted, the resulting water could elevate sea levels by about 190 feet (58 meters), the researchers reported. "So, every incremental increase in sea level rise really has impacts in terms of flooding".

Though the Antarctic Peninsula is plastered in snow and ice, the region is losing ice at an increasing rate.

The Antarctic Peninsula is also shedding lots of ice thanks to the incredible collapsing Larsen ice shelves.

The researchers relied on samples taken as part of the global ANtarctic geological DRILLing (ANDRILL) project.