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New analysis shows the Antarctic has now lost over 3 trillion tons of ice and sea level has risen 8mm in the last 2 decades

Published: 13 JUNE 2018 06:23PM

Words by Nastasha Romanenko | News Editor

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THE study, published today in the scientific journal Nature by IMBIE (Ice sheet mass balance inter-comparison exercise which is a collaboration between scientists supported by the European Space Agency (ESA) and the National Aeronautics and Space Administration, and contributes to assessment reports of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change) has shown that since 1992 the amount of ice lost from the Antarctic Ice Sheet now equates to over 3 trillion tons.

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The new analysis also shows that mean sea level has risen by 8mm, which may now seem like a great deal but this can have a range of dramatic effects on global weather patterns, coastal towns and even wildlife.

“Here we combine satellite observations of its changing volume, flow and gravitational attraction with modelling of its surface mass balance to show that it lost 2,720 ± 1,390 billion tonnes of ice between 1992 and 2017, which corresponds to an increase in mean sea level of 7.6 ± 3.9 millimetres”

The Antarctic ice sheet is one of the two polar ice caps of the Earth. It covers about 98% of the Antarctic continent and is the largest single mass of ice on Earth. It covers an area of almost 14 million square kilometres (5.4 million square miles) and contains 26.5 million cubic kilometres (6,400,000 cubic miles) of ice. Approximately 61 percent of all freshwater on the Earth is held in the Antarctic ice sheet, an amount equivalent to about 58 m of sea-level rise.

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“Over this period, ocean-driven melting has caused rates of ice loss from West Antarctica to increase from 53 ± 29 billion to 159 ± 26 billion tonnes per year; ice-shelf collapse has increased the rate of ice loss from the Antarctic Peninsula from 7 ± 13 billion to 33 ± 16 billion tonnes per year.”

Media Resource://558, pages219–222 (2018)

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