Antarctica Is Melting Three Times Faster Than a Decade Ago

Antarctica Is Melting Three Times Faster Than a Decade Ago

Antarctica Is Melting Three Times Faster Than a Decade Ago

"Things are happening. They are happening faster than we expected".

A recent study performed by a team of Antarctic experts has revealed that Antarctica is facing a sharp ice loss, which is drastically increasing day by day.

But that has changed.

The rate at which Antarctica is losing ice has more than doubled since 2012, according to the latest available data. And that ice is melting out at a quickening pace, showing that we're quickly driving the climate over the guard rails that have allowed humanity to flourish. Global sea levels would then only rise by around half a metre due to effects that have been irreversible since 2010.

"It's a hard one for us to answer because the time series is still pretty short", he said.

If the volcanoes are active, they could erupt at any moment, melting vast amounts of ice and contributing to the already worrisome rising sea levels endangering large swathes of coastal populations around the globe.

The research team measured isotopes produced by the interaction between cosmic rays and the nucleus of an atom, called cosmogenic nuclides, in glacial sediment from Antarctic's largest ice shelf.

Another component of the East Antarctic Ice Sheet, marine-based ice, sits below sea level and is thus directly affected by the ocean. That's causing glaciers to flow more quickly into the sea. "There are many more vulnerable ice shelves in the Antarctic that, if they break up, will accelerate the processes of sea level rise". He said this matches the temperature changes our planet has experienced, on average, during the industrial era.

The findings were compiled by the Ice Sheet Mass Balance Inter-comparison Exercise, comprised of 84 scientists from across global institutions, including NASA and the European Space Agency. We suggest that Antarctic ice volume variations in response to the range of global temperature experienced over this period - up to 2-3 ̊C above preindustrial, which correspond to future scenarios with Carbon dioxide concentrations between 400 and 500 ppm - are instead driven mostly by retreat of marine ice margins, in agreement with the latest models. And many of those papers showed different results.

The amount of ice lost is nearly three times more than in the 2002-2007 period, the report said. "So that was the motivation for originally setting up the project". A team of 84 scientists from 44 worldwide organisations have amalgamated 24 satellite surveys of change in the farthest south with greater precision that any other study so far. "The length of the satellite record now makes it possible for us to identify region that have been undergoing sustained ice loss for over a decade".

To gauge the ice sheet's stability, researchers took ultra-sensitive analytical measurements of chemical signatures in sediment samples taken from the ice sheet's sea bed.

"The message from this work is clear", said co-author Professor Steven Chown, the president of the Scientific Committee on Antarctic Research.

New and improved satellite missions, such as Sentinel-3, the recently launched Gravity Recovery and Climate Experiment Follow-On (GRACE-FO) and the eagerly awaited ICESat-2, will continue to give researchers more detailed insights into the disappearance of Antarctic ice.

Lifting the ban could result in severe damage to the Antarctic environment, while the loss of land ice could result in unsustainable levels of tourism and the spread of unwanted invasive species. The rate is triple what it was a decade ago, leeching Antarctica of almost 3 trillion tons of ice since 1992.

Antarctica has enough ice to raise seas by 190 feet if it ever all melted, dwarfing frozen stores in places from Greenland to the Himalayas and making its future the biggest uncertainty in understanding global warming and ocean levels.

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