September 24, 2018

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

17 June 2018, 10:41 | Ross Houston

Antarctica is now melting three times faster than ever before

The western edge of one of the largest icebergs ever recorded it broke away from the Antarctic Peninsula last year. The continent’s rate of ice loss is speeding up contributing even more to rising sea levels according to a new study. (NATHAN KURTZ  NY

The water hits the edges of the ice sheets from below.

The IMBIE assessment wasn't the only study published Wednesday with alarming news about the impacts of climate change on Antarctica.

The next 10 years will be critical for the future of Antarctica, and choices made will have long-lasting consequences, says an worldwide group of award-winning Antarctic research scientists in a paper released Thursoday.

Study co-author Dr Luke Bennetts, from the University of Adelaide's School of Mathematical Sciences, said the finding highlights the need for sea ice and ocean waves to be included in ice sheet modelling.

Because of all the melted ice, the global sea level has risen by 7.6 millimetres.

In the first scenario, former, global sea-level rise accelerates and a lowering of the pH of the oceans alters marine ecosystems. "Under natural conditions, we don't expect the ice sheet to lose ice at all", continues Shepherd, "There are no other plausible signals to be driving this other than climate change".

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.

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The region's largest glaciers, Pine Island and Thwaites - which is considered the most unsafe glacier in the world and will be studied intensively over the next three years, the Inquisitr reported in April - "hold the unwelcome distinction of having the world's highest annual levels of glacier loss", notes the Smithsonian Magazine.

Antarctica's ice sheet is melting at a rapidly increasing rate, according to a new report by a team of 80 scientists who have analyzed satellite imagery of the region. But what concerns scientists is the balance of how much snow and ice accumulates in a given year versus the amount that is lost. Meanwhile, the Financial Times finds its own angle to the story: "The natural gas industry grew previous year at the fastest rate since the immediate aftermath of the financial crisis, led by a surge in Chinese demand, which also helped to propel growth in energy consumption globally, according to energy major BP... If more warm ocean waters reach Antarctica, this will further accelerate sea level rise". According to nine award-winning scientists if the ice keeps melting at the same rate the sea level will rise and all the coastal countries will be threatened by flooding. West Antarctica and the Antarctic Peninsula have been known for some time to be losing ice.

"The last time we looked at the polar ice sheets, Greenland was the dominant contributor". The rate at which ice losses from Antarctica will increase in response to a warming world remains uncertain.

West Antarctica consists of frozen islands while the major part of East Antarctica could not be approached and also stable as it is plated on land mass unlike West Antarctica influenced largely by changing ocean temperature.

Continuing high emissions could deliver massive sea level rise - but strong compliance with the Paris climate agreement, while unable to stop changes happening now, could help to control how much they worsen. As the continent rose, the ice sheet began to self-stabilize. For East Antarctica the results are subject to larger uncertainties but indicate a state close to balance over the last 25 years.

Coastal flooding during storms at high tides will be more damaging and a threat to cities, from NY to Shanghai as well as low-lying nations from the Pacific Ocean to the Netherlands.

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