Antarctica is melting at an alarming rate

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

Between 2012 and 2017, the ice sheet lost an average of 219 billion tons of ice per year.

"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.

In light of the acceleration in ice loss we have observed over the past five years, we now find sea level rise from Antarctica to be tracking the IPCC's highest projection. The water nibbles at the floating edges of ice sheets from below. It contains more than 90% of the world's ice - enough to potentially raise global mean sea level by about 57 metres.

West Antarctica experienced the greatest recent change, with ice loss rising from 58.4 billion tons (53 billion metric tons) per year in the 1990s, to 175.3 billion tons (159 billion metric tons) a year since 2012.

"We're watching these reports closely", said Michiel van den Broeke, professor of Polar Meteorology at Utrecht University in the Netherlands, saying they were the guide for defending the Dutch coast. "But it means a lot to the potential of future sea level rise".

Scientists have laid out ways for how to save a melting Antarctica and if we don't then how grim our future can be is their another speculation. The continent is melting so fast, that it will contribute to six inches ( 15 centimetres) to sea level rise by 2100.

Scientists from the University of Maryland, the University of Leeds, and the University of California have reviewed decades of satellite measurements to reveal how and why Antarctica's glaciers, ice shelves, and sea ice are changing.

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Likewise, the fact that some ice on the southern continent was stable in a warming climate does not signal that Antarctica can somehow backstop the impact of climate change, they cautioned.

That's according to a new worldwide study. "There are many more vulnerable ice shelves in the Antarctic that, if they break up, will accelerate the processes of sea level rise". "Without the ice shelf to act as a natural buffer, glaciers can flow faster downstream and out to sea". As a result, the rate of sea level rise is also increasing.

"This is like the "straw that broke the camel's back", triggering the runaway collapse of large areas of ice shelves weakened by pre-existing fracturing and decades of surface flooding".

Earlier studies of the East Antarctic Ice Sheet indicated that some marine-based portions of the ice sheet and its neighboring West Antarctic Ice Sheet retreated during the Pliocene.

In the Greenland study, levels of beryllium-10 found in sandy deposits brought out to sea in icebergs suggested the ice sheet has been a "persistent and dynamic" presence that melted and re-formed periodically in response to temperature fluctuations.

The satellite missions providing data for this study are NASA's Ice, Cloud and land Elevation Satellite (ICESat); the joint NASA/German Aerospace Center Gravity Recovery and Climate Experiment (GRACE); ESA's first and second European Remote Sensing satellites, Envisat and CryoSat-2; the European Union's Sentinel-1 and Sentinel-2 missions; the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency's Advanced Land Observatory System; the Canadian Space Agency's RADARSAT-1 and RADARSAT-2 satellites; the Italian Space Agency's COSMO-SkyMed satellites; and the German Aerospace Center's TerraSAR-X satellite.

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