Mount Balfour and Fleming Glacier near the Antarctic Peninsula.
Photo: © Joe McGregor for NASA

18.01.2019

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The melting speed of the Antarctic Ice Sheet increased dramatically over the last four decades. East Antarctica is manifestly less stable than presumed, even though the main mass loss is experienced in West Antarctica

Antarctic Ice is melting far more quickly than presumed warned researchers from the University of California, Irvine, NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory and the Netherlands’ Utrecht University in January 2019. 

According to them, Antarctica experienced a sixfold increase in yearly ice mass loss between 1979 and 2017. They found that the accelerated melting caused global sea levels to rise more than half an inch during that time.

The researchers conducted a very long assessment of remaining Antarctic ice mass. Spanning four decades, the project was also geographically comprehensive; the research team examined 18 regions encompassing 176 basins, as well as surrounding islands.

One of the key findings of the project is the contribution East Antarctica has made to the total ice-mass-loss picture in recent decades. This region is probably more sensitive to climate change than traditionally assumed. Nevertheless, the mass loss from West Antarctica is three to four times larger than that from East Antarctica and the Peninsula, respectively.

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