The rapid melting of Antarctic ice results in "disastrous" sea level rise


Global warming is melting ice in Antarctica faster than ever – about six times more per year than 40 years ago – leading to rising sea levels around the world, scientists warn.

The Antarctic melt has already raised global sea levels by more than 1.4 cm between 1979 and 2017, the report said in the report. Annals of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS), a US peer-reviewed journal.

And the rate of melting is likely to lead to a disastrous rise in sea level in the next few years, according to lead author Eric Rignot, director of Earth system science at the University of California, Irvine.

"As the Antarctic ice sheet continues to melt, we expect Antarctica to raise sea levels on several levels over the next few centuries," said Rignot.

An increase of 1.8 million by 2100, as some scientists predict in the worst scenarios, would flood many coastal cities that house millions of people around the world, previous research has shown.

For the current study, researchers embarked on the longest ice mass assessment in Antarctica in 18 geographic regions.

The data came from high-resolution aerial photographs made by NASA airplanes, along with satellite radars from various space agencies.

Researchers have found that from 1979 to 1990, Antarctica lost an average of 40 billion tonnes of ice per year.

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

Even more troubling, the researchers found that areas that were once considered "stable and immune to change" in Eastern Antarctica are pouring much ice, too, the study said.

"The Wilkes Earth sector in Eastern Antarctica in general has always been a major player in mass loss even in the 1980s, as our research has shown," Rignot said.

"This region is probably more climate-sensitive than traditionally assumed, and this is important to know because it contains even more ice than West Antarctica and the Antarctic Peninsula combined."

Warming of ocean waters will only accelerate the loss of ice in the future, Rignot said. Recent research has shown that the oceans are heating up faster than previously thought, setting new heat records in recent years.


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