Ice Loss Speeding up in the Antarctic

Antarctic sea ice losses are speeding up and have in fact surpassed estimates. Last week scientists (who are part of the Ice Sheet Mass Balance Intercomparison Exercise) announced that 3 trillion tonnes of ice was lost between 1992 – 2017. Annual ice loss has more than doubled in the Antarctic Peninsula and tripled in West Antarctica. And the losses are speeding up, with most of the losses occurring in the last five years.

This means that future predictions made by the IPCC may be too low. Previously, the range of predictions for the next 100 years predict no contribution at all, suggesting that ice loss from the continent’s glaciers will be offset by an increase in snowfall or they suggest losses equivalent to about 15 centimeters or so of sea-level rise. Previously, it was thought that Antarctica would stay in the range of the lower limit, the new research shows that it is tracking the upper limit.

“Around Brooklyn you get flooding once a year or so, but if you raise sea level by 15 centimeters then that’s going to happen 20 times a year,” said Andrew Shepherd, a professor of earth observation at the University of Leeds and the lead author of the study.

And to add to this, it is estimated that Greenland lost 1 trillion tonnes of ice between 2011 and 2014

Antarctica is not the only contributor to sea level rise. Greenland lost an estimated 1 trillion tons of ice between 2011 and 2014.

All of this is compounded by the fact that global warming is also warming ocean waters, making them expand and thus also raising sea levels further.


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Saima Baig

I write on science, history, nature, environment, climate change, feminism, politics and religion.