Antarctica ice melt has accelerated by 280% in 4 decades
Antarctica ice melt has accelerated by 280% in 4 decades
GAVIN DUNBARThe Nansen ice shelf. Scientists say the ice sheet in the Antarctic is"highly sensitive to changes in climate
17 January, 2019, 07:38
They found the ice loss to be accelerating dramatically - a key indicator of human-caused climate change.
The longest-ever assessment of Antarctic ice mass paints a bleak picture for the future.
A new study found that the melt rate of Antactic ice has increased from 36 billion tonnes in 1979-90 up to 228 billion tonnes from 2009-17, say researchers.
The most striking finding in Monday's study is the assertion that East Antarctica, which contains by far the continent's most ice - a vast sheet capable of almost 170 feet of potential sea-level rise - is also experiencing serious melting.
Antarctica's crucial ice sheet has been melting for the entire 39 year period, but this is just the tip of the iceberg, so to speak, said Eric Rignot, who led the UCV study. "It shows that we can't ignore the East Antarctic and need to focus in on the areas that are losing mass most quickly, particularly those with reverse bed slopes that could result in rapid ice disintegration and sea-level rise".
Researchers discovered that from 1979 to 1990, Antarctica shed an average of 40 billion tons of ice mass annually.
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However, a subsequent study published in Nature in September 2018 analysed layers of sediment from the ocean floor deposited the last time the Wilkes Subglacial Basin, part of the Eastern Antarctic due south of Australia, melted around 125,000 years ago.
Accordign to a study the yearly loss of ice from Antartica has increased by an alarming rate of 280 per cent between 2001 and 2017.
The team of scientists were studying how the Antarctic ice sheet is influenced by changes to how the Earth moves in space.
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"Antarctica is melting away", Rignot told CNN, "not just in a couple of places". The first harmful effect of this unsafe development: higher sea-level rise. "If we fail to achieve carbon dioxide emissions targets and Earth's average temperature warms more than 2 degrees Celsius, sea ice will diminish and we jump into a world that is more similar to that last experienced during the early to mid-Miocene", says Levy, referencing a geological epoch that ended about 14 million years ago when the Earth and its polar regions were much more temperate, with an atmosphere supercharged with carbon dioxide and global temperatures, on average, warmer by 3 to 4 degrees Celsius (7 to 9 degrees Fahrenheit). In the Antarctic, the ice shelves extend from the land out over the water.
"Sea ice creates a barrier between the ocean and the ice".
Another troublesome finding in the study was the fact that East Antarctica has also been losing ice significantly over the same time period. Essentially, the researchers subtracted data on how much ice flows into the ocean each year from data on how much snow falls on the continent.
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