Antarctica lost three trillion tonnes of ice in blink of an eye

20 June, 2018, 13:12 | Author: Kelly Sanders
  • Antarctica ice loss

That's a lot of ice.

The situation continues to deteriorate, because for the past 5 years the rate of ice melting has increased three times. By a decade later, between 2002 and 2007, that average annual loss went up to 73 billion metric tons-a 24-billion-metric-ton increase.

The study says that from 1992 to 2011, Antarctica lost almost 84 billion tons of ice a year (76 billion metric tons). That's an 146-billion-metric-ton leap.

This latest IMBIE is the most complete assessment of Antarctic ice mass changes to date, combining 24 satellite surveys of Antarctica and involving 80 scientists from 42 global organizations.


Ice losses from Antarctica have tripled since 2012, increasing global sea levels by 0.12 inch (3 millimeters) in that timeframe alone, according to a major new worldwide climate assessment funded by NASA and the European Space Agency (ESA).

The assessment is an analysis of 24 different satellite-based measurements of ice loss on the continent, making it one of the most comprehensive studies of Antarctic melting to date. Results of the Ice Sheet Mass Balance Inter-comparison Exercise (IMBIE) were published Wednesday in the journal Nature. The problem is that the computer models are, in fact, the only way to predict how many will lose ice in the Antarctic. The highest rise has been across the West Antarctica, where sheets of ice and glaciers are fragile to the hotter temperatures of the ocean.

That leap in ice loss is concentrated in West Antarctica, where losses jumped from 53 billion metric tons of ice in 1992 to 159 billion metric tons in 2017.

The only consolation is that the contribution of Antarctica to sea-level rise remains small: only 7.6 mm in the period from 1992 to 2017. That, of course, would be catastrophic for communities of people all over the world.

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