The annual melting of ice on Antarctica happens faster than ever before. The pace is about six times higher than forty years ago. This is causing an ever-increasing increase in sea level, scientists warn Monday.
The melting of the ice on Antarctica was responsible for an increase of 1.4 centimeters of sea level between 1979 and 2017, according to a report from the scientific journal “Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences”.
If the ice melts as quickly as expected, it will cause a catastrophic rise in sea levels in the coming years, says Eric Rignot, professor at the University of California (Irvine). ‘With the Antarctic hood that keeps melting, we expect a rise in the sea level with a few meters in the coming centuries, as a result of Antarctica.’
Previous studies show that a 1.8 meter rise by 2100, which is one of the most pessimistic predictions, would flood many coastal cities. Millions of people would be affected.
For the new study, the conclusions of which were published on Monday, the scientists have conducted the longest research ever into the ice mass in eighteen regions in Antarctica. They used data from aerial photographs in high resolution from aircraft of the American space agency NASA. They also leveraged radar images of satellites and other space devices.
They showed that Antarctica lost an average of 40 billion tons of ice per year between 1979 and 1990. From 2009 to 2017, that amounted to 252 billion tons every year. More disturbing is that scientists established that areas in the East, which were considered relatively ‘resistant to change’ in contrast to the West, now also are losing a lot of ice.