Arthur J. Villasanta – Fourth Estate Contributor
Baltimore, MD, United States (4E) – The melting of the massive mountains of ice in Antarctica due to unfettered man-made climate change is accelerating at a frightening rate, and is boosting the rate of sea level rise worldwide.
More than three trillion tons of ice has melted since 1992, according to a new study by an international team of ice experts published in the peer-reviewed journal Nature. The study revealed that Antarctica lost nearly 84 billion tons of ice a year (76 billion metric tons) from 1992 to 2011. The melt rate ballooned to more than 241 billion tons a year (219 billion metric tons) from 2012 to 2017.
The study said the melt in Antarctica’s southern-most ice sheet — a key indicator of climate change — has generated enough water to cover Texas to a depth of nearly four meters or 13 feet. All that water made global oceans rise 7.6 mm or about three-tenths of an inch. Portions of West Antarctica where most of the melting occurred is in a state of collapse, said the study. The study said Antarctica alone can add 16 cm (six inches) to sea level rise by the end of the century.
In Antarctica, it’s mostly warmer water causing the acceleration of melting ice. Warming of the southern ocean is connected to shifting winds, which are connected to global warming from the burning of coal, oil and natural gas, said the study. More than 70 percent of the recent melt is in West Antarctica.
“I think we should be worried. That doesn’t mean we should be desperate,” said University of California Irvine’s Isabella Velicogna, one of the study’s co-authors. “Things are happening. They are happening faster than we expected.”
Unlike single-measurement studies, the team studied at ice loss in 24 different ways using 10 to 15 satellites, as well as ground and air measurements and computer simulations.
“Under natural conditions we don’t expect the ice sheet to lose ice at all,” said lead author Andrew Shepherd of the University of Leeds in England. “There are no other plausible signals to be driving this other than climate change.”
The latest figures show East Antarctica is losing relatively little ice a year, or some 28 metric tons, since 2012. It was gaining ice before 2012.
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