Antarctica Is Melting Way Faster Than Anyone Expected

The continent is losing ice almost three times as fast since 2007, and it's definitely not a good sign.

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Antarctica has been losing ice more than twice as quickly since 2012—which is way faster than scientists anticipated, according to a recent study in . At its current rate, Antarctica's ice loss will add six inches to sea-levels by 2100, which is in the upper range of what the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change estimates Antarctica will contribute to sea level rise, and translates to serious impacts on Earth.

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“Around Brooklyn you get flooding once a year or so, but if you raise sea level by 15 centimeters then that’s going to happen 20 times a year,” Andrew Shepherd, a professor of earth observation at the University of Leeds and the lead author of the study told the .

Between 1992 and 2017, Antarctica has lost three trillion tons of ice, which led to a sea-level increase of about three-tenth of an inch. If that doesn’t sound daunting yet, consider this: 40 percent of that increase came within the last five years, when the ice-loss rate sped up by 165 percent. The study also helped clarify the ambiguity regarding ice loss in different regions in Antarctica. While West Antarctica and the Antarctic Peninsula has been losing ice for a long time, East Antarctica has experienced a mix of ice gain and loss, which some has cited as a reason not to worry about global warming. The latest study emphasizes that the variations in East Antarctica are not nearly enough to make up for the rapid loss throughout the rest of the continent.

Satellite observations have also helped scientists identify what’s led to the loss of ice in Antarctica: Antarctica is losing more mass along its edges, where ice meets the warming oceans. “They’re melting the ice at rates that far exceed anything that would change in the air, and these are forces that you can’t reverse easily," Dr. Michele Koppes, a glaciologist at the University of British Columbia, told the .

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