Antarctica ice loss increases six fold since 1979

Antarctica ice loss increases six fold since 1979

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.

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 past year by a large worldwide team of researchers.

Rignot said that one of the key findings of the project is the contribution East Antarctica has made to the total ice mass loss picture in recent decades, the PTI report mentioned. "That, to me, seems to be reason for concern".

More droughts, heat waves, severe storms and the rising sea level could bring unsafe weather and threaten wildlife systems and communities around the world, the article said.

"This study adds to our knowledge of the history and behaviour of Antarctica's ice sheets and is yet more proof that urgent action is needed on emissions", said co-author Professor Tim Naish, of Victoria University's Antarctic Research Centre.

The research is important because it teases out the pattern of growth and decay of the ice sheet over geologic time, including the presence of sea ice, a thin and fragile layer of frozen ocean surrounding Antarctica. Forams living in the deep ocean accumulate isotopes in their shells, and different isotopes of oxygen can yield a detailed chemical record of the changing volumes of the Antarctic Ice Sheet.

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The ice sheets of Antarctica and Greenland may collapse even if we limit global warming.

"Persistent sea ice appears to have helped maintain a degree of stability in the Antarctic Ice Sheet". Scientists came to that conclusion after systematically computing gains and losses across 65 sectors of Antarctica where large glaciers - or a series of glaciers flowing into an ice shelf - reach the sea. The entire West Antarctic ice sheet is capable of driving a sea-level rise of 5.28 meters, or 17.32 feet, and is now losing 159 billion tons every year. The ice sheet is so heavy, Bentley and his colleagues discovered, that much of the West Antarctic ice sheet sits on land thousands of meters below sea level, making it a marine ice sheet in places.

The new research highlights how some massive glaciers, ones that to this point have been studied relatively little, are losing significant amounts of ice. The study notes that the glacier is "grounded on a ridge with a steep retrograde slope immediately upstream", meaning that additional losses could cause the glacier to rapidly retreat.

By the years 2009 to 2017, the ice loss had increased more than sixfold, to 252 billion tons per year.

In the short term, the warmer water simply results in more melt, more icebergs and modest sea level rise.

"It's extremely important to find out what is happening there", he told Reuters. The latest research shows East Antarctic melting deserves "closer attention", according to the PNAS report.

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