Antarctica's ice sheet is melting 3 times faster than before

Andrew Shepherd shows an unusual iceberg near the Rothera Research Station on the Antarctic Peninsula. In a study released Wednesday

Antarctica's ice sheet is melting 3 times faster than before

"This has to be a cause for concern for the governments we trust to protect our coastal cities and communities", Shepherd added.

Much of the East Antarctic ice sheet is land-based.

"We view these results as another ringing alarm for action to slow the warming of our planet". Until 2012, this process was offset by the increase in the volume of ice in East Antarctica, over the last five years and in this part of the continent also began the rapid melting of (28 ± 30 billion tons per year). It was gaining ice before 2012. This warming of the southern oceans is mostly because of the shifting winds- which are mostly linked to global warming.

Eric Rignot, from NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, added, "Measurements collected by radar satellites and Landsat over the years have documented glacier changes around Antarctica at an incredible level of precision, so that we have now a very detailed and thorough understanding of the rapid changes in ice flow taking place in Antarctica and how they raise sea level worldwide".

The Pine Island Glacier's 400-metre thick ice shelf must have therefore been grounded on the ridge for several decades as the satellite images of the glacier gathered by the researchers confirm. Together, they act as corks holding back ice mass further inland from falling into the ocean.

The study found more than 10 percent of Antarctica's coastal glaciers are now retreating more than 25m per year.

Hamish Pritchard summer clouds swirl around the Staccato Peaks of Alexander Island off the Antarctic Peninsula. In a study released Wednesday
Antarctica's ice sheet is melting 3 times faster than before

If no one does anything to reduce the greenhouse gas emissions and the planet continues to warm then a scenario would come when a quarter of the volume of the sea ice would probably disappear by 2070, fishes and penguins will die and the USA could see $1 trillion in damage. Over that period, West Antarctica's ice loss rate has risen from 53 billion metric tons per year to 159 metric tons annually. Since 1993, the global ocean watermark has gone up by 84.8 mm (3.3 inches).

The maps of the sea floor can now be fed into a computer model to work to produce more accurate simulations for future change and the glacier's contribution to sea-level rise. According to scientists, this could be the beginning of the formation of a new ocean. Since then, that figure has jumped, on average, to 219 billion tonnes.

Lead author Dr Rob Massom, of the Australian Antarctic Division and the Antarctic Climate and Ecosystems Cooperative Research Centre, said that reduced sea ice coverage since the late 1980s led to increased exposure of ice shelves on the Antarctic Peninsula to ocean swells, causing them to flex and break. The continent stores enough frozen water to raise global sea levels by 190 feet (58 meters), if it were to melt entirely.

"The detailed record shows an acceleration, starting around 2002", said Beata Csatho, one of the study authors and a glaciologist at the State University of NY at Buffalo, in an email. The Daily Telegraph runs with the hyperbolic headline: "Fossil fuel resurgence has already dashed Paris climate goals, says BP", but clarifies within the article that, rather than actually "dashing" the goals, BP has delivered "a blow" to them.

"The outcome is deeply concerning", commented Imperial College London professor Martin Siegert, who did not take part in the study.

"Greenhouse gas emissions must start decreasing in the coming decade to have a realistic prospect of following the low emissions narrative and so avoid global impacts associated with change in Antarctica, such as substantial sea level rise", he said.

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