Meet the horrors of Antarctica meltdown and rising sea levels

Meet the horrors of Antarctica meltdown and rising sea levels

As oceans grow warmer and weaker areas of East and West Antarctica become exposed, Rignot noted that more research needs to be done and fast.

Ice losses from the frozen continent surged to a net 252 billion tonnes a year in the period 2009-17 from an average 40 billion tonnes from 1979-90, according to the study in the USA journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS). Between 1979 and 2017, Antarctic ice loss increased by a factor of six, causing sea levels to rise by half an inch.

Antarctica's crucial ice sheet has been melting for the entire 39 year period, but this is just the tip of the iceberg, so to speak, said Eric Rignot, who led the UCV study.

Rising sea levels are putting the Antarctic ice sheet under threat.

Antarctica is melting more than six times faster than it did in the 1980s, a new study shows.

The PNAS study estimated that Antarctica lost 169 billion tonnes of ice from 1992-2017, above the 109 billion tonnes in the same period estimated previous year by a large global team of researchers.

The study concluded that more observations are needed in the sparsely studied East, compared to the West where most scientific attention has been placed in recent years due to the alarming ice loss in that region.

However, Antarctica's ice sheet - composed of the East Antarctic Ice Sheet and the West Antarctic Ice Sheet - is not a giant mass of stationary ice but rather a system with inputs and outputs of matter and energy.

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According to Rignot and his team, the study is the longest ever assessment of Antarctic ice mass, while also covering a large geographical area, encompassing 18 different regions in total.

The outward ice flow is normal and natural, and it is typically offset by some 2 trillion tons of snowfall atop Antarctica each year, a process that on its own would leave Earth's sea level relatively unchanged.

In 2017, a study suggested that New York City could be in danger of getting hit with storms that occurred once every 500 years, every five years.

Richard Levy said that the study confirmed a connection between these astronomical changes and changes in the size and extent of the Antarctic ice sheet.

Denman, for instance, contains nearly five feet of potential sea-level rise alone and has lost almost 200 billion tons of ice, the study finds. The Antarctica we know today formed less than 3 million years ago when Carbon dioxide fell below 400ppm and year-round sea ice became a persistent feature.

Levy and Meyers found that sea ice, or the thin frozen layer of ocean water that surrounds Antarctica, plays a critical role in protecting the miles-deep ice on the continent from the warmer ocean that surrounds it.

The melting rate increased drastically in the new century. "It surprises most people to learn that 20,000 years ago, sea level was 400 feet lower than today", explains John Englander, an expert on sea level rise and author of the book "High Tide On Main Street".

"Persistent sea ice appears to have helped maintain a degree of stability in the Antarctic Ice Sheet".

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