Three trillion tonnes of ice vanish from Antarctica

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

Antarctica is now melting three times faster than ever before

They also highlight the existential threat facing low-lying coastal cities and communities home to hundreds of millions of people.

Writing in Nature, the authors are all winners of the Tinker-Muse Prize for Science and Policy in Antarctica and experts in such disciplines as biology, oceanography, glaciology, geophysics, climate science and policy.

The Antarctic ice sheet lost almost 3 trillion metric tons of ice from 1992 to 2017 and tripled its rate of loss over that time for West Antarctica, according to an global collaboration involving some 80 scientists.

Reports say that more than 70 per cent of the ice melt is taking place in West Antarctica. In West Antarctica, ice shelves are being eaten away by warm ocean water, and those in the Amundsen and Bellingshausen seas are up to 18 percent thinner than in the early 1990s. About 3 trillion tons of Antarctica ice melted and elevated 7.6 mm of sea level in the past 25 years. This huge amount of thawing has led to a rise of nearly a centimeter in sea levels.

"We now have an unequivocal picture of what's happening in Antarctica", said co-lead author Eric Rignot, a scientist at NASA's Jet propulsion Laboratory who has been tracking Earth's ice sheets for two decades.

A new study of the West Antarctic Ice Sheet during the Holocene suggests the ice sheet is unlikely to reverse its accelerating retreat as it has in the past.

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.

The Antarctic Ice Sheet covers an area of about 14 million square kilometres; by comparison, the area of Australia is about 7.7 million square kilometres, and that of the U.S. is about 9.8 million square kilometres.

Hamish Pritchard summer clouds swirl around the Staccato Peaks of Alexander Island off the Antarctic Peninsula. In a study released Wednesday

"Ocean sanctuaries create havens for marine life to build resilience to a changing ocean, but also crucially help us avoid the worst effects of climate change, by preserving healthy ocean ecosystems that play a vital role storing carbon".

The warming of this water is caused by the increased global warming due to the burning of coal, oil and natural gas. According to a new study, the rapid melting will cause sea levels to rise six inches over the next 80 years.

"If you start removing mass from there, you can have a very large scale evacuation of ice into the ocean and significant sea level rise", she continued.

Professor Shepherd said: "We have long suspected that changes in Earth's climate will affect the polar ice sheets".

If the right decisions are not made to preserve Antarctica in the next ten years, the consequences will be felt around the world.

"What these narratives show us is that reducing greenhouse gas emissions, in line with the Paris climate agreement, and implementing effective policy can still minimise change in the Antarctic environment and the rest of planet". As the continent rose, the ice sheet began to self-stabilize. "But remember for the northern hemisphere, for North America, the fact that the location in West Antarctica is where the action is amplifies that rate of sea level rise by up to an about additional 25 percent in a city like Boston or NY".

"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.

France edge Australia with helping hand from VAR
Australia weathered that early storm, though, and came agonisingly close to taking the lead after 17 minutes. Les Bleus had started the game in ominous fashion, carving out three chances in the opening six minutes.

Latest News