Scripps Oceanography: Antarctic Ice Thinning, Contributing to Ocean’s Global Rise

Andrew Shepherd shows an unusual iceberg near the Rothera Research Station on the Antarctic Peninsula. In a study released Wednesday

Andrew Shepherd shows an unusual iceberg near the Rothera Research Station on the Antarctic Peninsula. In a study released Wednesday

During the same period, the loss of ice for the Antarctic Peninsula went up from seven billion tonnes annually to 33 billion tonnes annually.

They also highlight the existential threat facing low-lying coastal cities and communities home to hundreds of millions of people.

Shepherd, Smith and Whitehouse are among 80 IMBIE team members listed as authors of the Nature paper, "Mass Balance of the Antarctic Ice Sheet From 1992 to 2017".

Lead author Andrew Shepherd of the University of Leeds in England thinks that by the end of the century, Antarctica alone can add up to a half a foot to sea level rise.

Boston, for example, would see an increase in sea level of 1.25 cm for every 1 cm of sea level rise from the ice melting in West Antarctica.

"But where there is loss of sea ice, storm-generated ocean swells can easily reach the exposed ice shelf, causing the first few kilometres of its outer margin to flex". "Thanks to the satellites our space agencies have launched, we can now track their ice losses and global sea level contribution with confidence".

For the total period from 1992 through the present, the ice sheet has lost almost 3 trillion tons of ice, equating to just under 8 millimeters of sea level rise.

Antarctica's potential contribution to global sea level rise from its land-held ice is nearly 7.5 times greater than all other sources of land-held ice in the world combined. Their mission is to produce the most comprehensive look at what's happening to the world's vulnerable ice sheets in Antarctica and Greenland. Over the last five years, the rate was comparatively higher than the start of 1992.

The scientists found that from 1992 to 2017, the ice sheet lost around 2.7 trillion metric tons of ice, corresponding to an average sea level rise of 7.6 millimeters, or about 0.3 inches.

Hamish Pritchard summer clouds swirl around the Staccato Peaks of Alexander Island off the Antarctic Peninsula. In a study released Wednesday

"We view these results as another alarm to slow the warming of our planet", said Eric Ringo, employee of the jet propulsion Laboratory of NASA, who for two decades had been watching the ice cover the Ground.

That exact location matters, as the communities living on the US coastline will see the sea levels rise, according to climate scientists.

Photo taken on December 9, 2017 shows a penguin at Inexpressible Island in Terra Nova Bay of the Ross Sea in Antarctica. West Antarctica and the Antarctic Peninsula have been known for some time to be losing ice. Meanwhile, the Financial Times finds its own angle to the story: "The natural gas industry grew past year at the fastest rate since the immediate aftermath of the financial crisis, led by a surge in Chinese demand, which also helped to propel growth in energy consumption globally, according to energy major BP..."

Greenpeace which is campaigning for a large tract of the ocean surrounding the Antarctic to be made into the world's biggest ocean sanctuary, said government's must heed the warning.

"The next piece of the puzzle is to understand the processes driving this change", Durham University's Pippa Whitehouse said.

When an ice shelf loses contact with such "pinning points", the glacier reacts as if someone had suddenly released a giant brake.

The findings could have serious implications for sea level rise over the coming century, the scientist said.

West Antarctica consists of frozen islands while the major part of East Antarctica could not be approached and also stable as it is plated on land mass unlike West Antarctica influenced largely by changing ocean temperature.

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