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Research: Ocean waves following sea ice loss trigger Antarctic ice shelf collapse
17 June 2018, 10:41 | Justin Tyler
Melting of Antarctica is speeding up, worrying scientists
Between 2012 and 2017, Antarctica lost 219 billion tons of ice a year, raising sea levels by 0.6 millimeters (0.12 inch) a year.
"This does not mean that at current atmospheric carbon dioxide levels Antarctica won't contribute to sea level rise".
Between 1992 and 2017, a total of 2.7 trillion tonnes of Antarctic ice melted, amounting to a rise of global sea levels by about 7.5mm just from Antarctic ice alone.
The Atlantic noted this week that millions of people on the U.S. East Coast could be displaced from their homes by the end of the century because of melting in parts of western Antarctica ― which scientists have identified as being the source of most of the recent melting.
Ludwig Schröder explained: "Altimeter satellites measure the surface elevation of the ice sheet".
"This study is more evidence that the warming effects of climate change are impacting our planet in ways that are often more unsafe than we perhaps had thought", said Dow.
In our latest assessment, published in Nature, we used 11 different satellite missions to track Antarctica's sea level contribution since the early 1990s. This rate increased when almost 241 billion tonnes of ice was lost from 2011 till 2017, according to a study in the journal Nature.
Eric Rignot, from NASA'sJet Propulsion Laboratory, added, "Measurements collected by radar satellites and Landsat over the years have documented glacier changes around Antarctica at an wonderful level of precision, so that we have now a very detailed and thorough understanding of the rapid changes in ice flow taking place in Antarctica and how they raise sea level worldwide".
Scientists have already identified the cause of this rapid loss of ice.
The speed that the ice melts is a key indicator of climate change. By mapping our measured sea level contribution on top of these projections, we found that our previous assessment of Antarctic sea level contribution, which measured ice loss until 2012, was tracking the IPCC's lowest projection.
"To do this, we need to keep watching the ice sheet closely, but we also need to look back in time and try to understand how the ice sheet responded to past climate change".
This new knowledge will help us better predict sea level rise in the future. It is known to be losing ice rapidly because it is being melted from below by warm ocean waters, a process that is rendering its largest glaciers unstable.
The Eastern Antarctic ice sheet, which is more protected from the ocean, has actually seen a slight rise in its coverage by about 5 billion tonnes.
Oceans are now rising by 3.4 millimetres (0.13 inches) per year.
Scientists have previously raised fears about a scenario in which ice loss from Antarctica takes on a rate of explosive growth.
"We can not count on East Antarctica to be the quiet player, and we start to observe change there in some sectors that have potential and they're vulnerable", said Velicogna.
The findings could have serious implications for sea level rise over the coming century, the scientist said. This week's issue of Nature features several other reports on Antarctica and its future.
The scenario which plays out largely depends on choices made over the next decade, on both climate-change and on environmental regulation, they conclude.
Or alternatively, he continued, Antarctica could drive faster changes, ones that "begin to exceed what we're going to be able to cope with".
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