New research has revealed the stunning discovery of just how fast Antarctica is actually melting today. Between 1979 and 2017, Antarctic ice loss increased by six times according to the study recently published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
A team of scientists from the University of California Irvine, NASA’s Jet Propulsion Lab, and Utrecht University in the Netherlands conducted the longest-ever assessment of remaining Antarctic ice mass by looking at aerial and satellite images of 18 Antarctic regions which included 176 basins and some surrounding islands to determine the change in the last four decades.
Between 1979 to 1990, Antarctica lost roughly 44 billion tons of ice each year while from 2009 to 2017 the number incredibly grew to 278 billion tons of ice lost.
Ice loss directly contributes to sea level rise and the team found that Antarctica’s melting caused sea levels around the world to rise by 0.5 inches during the four decades.
“That’s just the tip of the iceberg, so to speak,” said lead author Eric Rignot, a professor at UCI and senior project scientist at the JPL, in a statement. “As the Antarctic ice sheet continues to melt away, we expect multi-meter sea level rise from Antarctica in the coming centuries.”
Arctic ice melt is being caused by the warming of the planet due to carbon emissions released by burning fossil fuels. To prevent further damage from climate change, we need to drastically reduce our greenhouse gas emissions by switching to renewable, clean energy sources.