Antarctica losing six times more ice mass annually now than 40 years ago

January 14, 2019, University of California, Irvine
Credit: CC0 Public Domain

Antarctica experienced a sixfold increase in yearly ice mass loss between 1979 and 2017, according to a study published today in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. Glaciologists from the University of California, Irvine, NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory and the Netherlands' Utrecht University additionally found that the accelerated melting caused global sea levels to rise more than half an inch during that time.

"That's just the tip of the iceberg, so to speak," said lead author Eric Rignot, Donald Bren Professor and chair of Earth system science at UCI. "As the Antarctic ice sheet continues to melt away, we expect multi-meter sea level rise from Antarctica in the coming centuries."

For this study, Rignot and his collaborators conducted what he called the longest-ever assessment of remaining Antarctic ice mass. Spanning four decades, the project was also geographically comprehensive; the research team examined 18 regions encompassing 176 basins, as well as surrounding islands.

Techniques used to estimate ice sheet balance included a comparison of snowfall accumulation in interior basins with ice discharge by glaciers at their grounding lines, where ice begins to float in the ocean and detach from the bed. Data was derived from fairly high-resolution aerial photographs taken from a distance of about 350 meters via NASA's Operation IceBridge; satellite radar interferometry from multiple space agencies; and the ongoing Landsat satellite imagery series, begun in the early 1970s.

The team was able to discern that between 1979 and 1990, Antarctica shed an average of 40 gigatons of ice mass annually. From 2009 to 2017, about 252 gigatons per year were lost.

The pace of melting rose dramatically over the four-decade period. From 1979 to 2001, it was an average of 48 gigatons annually per decade. The rate jumped 280 percent to 134 gigatons for 2001 to 2017.

Rignot said that one of the key findings of the project is the contribution East Antarctica has made to the total ice mass loss picture in recent decades.

"The Wilkes Land sector of East Antarctica has, overall, always been an important participant in the , even as far back as the 1980s, as our research has shown," he said. "This region is probably more sensitive to climate [change] than has traditionally been assumed, and that's important to know, because it holds even more ice than West Antarctica and the Antarctic Peninsula together."

He added that the sectors losing the most ice mass are adjacent to warm ocean water.

"As climate warming and send more ocean heat toward those sectors, they will continue to contribute to sea level rise from Antarctica in decades to come," said Rignot, who's also a senior project scientist at JPL.

Explore further: Glaciers in East Antarctica also 'imperiled' by climate change, researchers find

More information: Eric Rignot el al., "Four decades of Antarctic Ice Sheet mass balance from 1979–2017," PNAS (2018). www.pnas.org/cgi/doi/10.1073/pnas.1812883116

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Bert_Halls
3.9 / 5 (22) Jan 14, 2019
For the denialists who come here to post their ignorant bullshit:

Remember, as you die of old age over the next few months and years, the world will be getting better for your absence.
unrealone1
2 / 5 (10) Jan 14, 2019
Two years ago Weber led another study, also published in Nature, which found that the Antarctic Ice Sheet collapsed repeatedly and abruptly at the end of the Last Ice Age to 19,000 to 9,000 years ago.

" was this repeatedly and abruptly Ice Sheet collapse caused by CO2?"

Read more at: https://phys.org/...html#jCp
MR166
2.5 / 5 (16) Jan 14, 2019
"Rignot said that one of the key findings of the project is the contribution East Antarctica has made to the total ice mass loss picture in recent decades."

In the mean time the West Antarctica ice sheet has been gaining more than the East has lost and the rate of sea level change has NOT been increasing according to the land based tide gauges.

1/2 inch extra would have been apparent years ago.

Some of these so called scientists need to be place in prison for their MAJOR fraud which cost taxpayers of the world Trillions!
grandpa
2 / 5 (24) Jan 14, 2019
Remember, there may be over a quarter million doctorate degrees awarded each year. They all have to do research on something. These are mostly young people who have little life experience and are desperate to get their PhD. A lot of crap comes out of research because it is too narrowly focused because it is impossible to take into account even a modest amount of variables.
The truth is that global warming is true, ice will melt, but life does not survive by trying to keep everything the same. It survives by adapting.
The truth is that the world was going into a global ice ball without the interference caused by humans.
V4Vendicar
4.1 / 5 (18) Jan 14, 2019
" was this repeatedly and abruptly Ice Sheet collapse caused by CO2?" - Retard

Yup!

Do you intend to remain stupid for the rest of your life?

V4Vendicar
3.9 / 5 (19) Jan 14, 2019
The truth is that Grandpa will soon be dead, and the world will be a better place for it.

"The truth is that global warming is true, ice will melt, but life does not survive by trying to keep everything the same. It survives by adapting." - Grandpa

A rise of 8'C is a human extinction level event.

V4Vendicar
4.4 / 5 (19) Jan 14, 2019
Liar.. Liar.. Pants on fire...

"In the mean time the West Antarctica ice sheet has been gaining more than the East has lost " - Mr166

Net loss is resulting in a higher sea level. Poor Mr166. His reading comprehension is that of a child.

While the interior of East Antarctica is gaining land ice, overall Antarctica has been losing land ice at an accelerating rate.

https://www.skept...iate.htm
Surveillance_Egg_Unit
1.3 / 5 (15) Jan 14, 2019
The truth is that Grandpa will soon be dead, and the world will be a better place for it.

"The truth is that global warming is true, ice will melt, but life does not survive by trying to keep everything the same. It survives by adapting." - Grandpa

A rise of 8'C is a human extinction level event.

says V4Vanquished

The truth is that the human race is scheduled for extinction in any case - whether or not the oceans rise and floods the land masses and drowns animals, birds - and yes, people like you. But you might not even feel a thing once that humongous incoming asteroid heats up the atmosphere and, hopefully, lands in your backyard.
Grandpa will survive as old folks have the ability from long years of experience that YOU still haven't learned.
So yes, the human race as beset with all its problems and willfulness and self-scourging will settle back into the dust from whence it came.
Why, YOU might even find yourself lying next to Grandpa in the dirt.
antigoracle
1.8 / 5 (19) Jan 14, 2019
Continuous discovery of volcanoes in Antarctica has risen to such levels that it is now the densest population on the planet. So, the AGW Cult must follow by increasing their PATHOLOGICAL LIES just to sustain their dogma and feed their hungry and ignorant Chicken Littles.
grandpa
1.4 / 5 (19) Jan 14, 2019
What is with all the insults? The earth is not going to rise 8 degrees. Many scientists and engineers have already developed the technology to replace fossil fuels within 20 years. We will probably get a 3 degree rise in temperatures which will be good for earth. It was turning into a global ice ball as evidence by the increasing ice ages over the last million years and the rock bottom carbon dioxide levels. I feel that most of the impetus to fight global warming is, government people and socialists, wanting more control and ways to collect taxes.
HeloMenelo
4.8 / 5 (16) Jan 15, 2019

The truth is that the human race is scheduled for extinction in any case - whether or not the oceans rise and floods the land masses and drowns animals, birds - and yes, people like you. But you might not even feel a thing once that humongous incoming asteroid heats up the atmosphere and, hopefully, lands in your backyard.
Grandpa will survive as old folks have the ability from long years of experience that YOU still haven't learned.
So yes, the human race as beset with all its problems and willfulness and self-scourging will settle back into the dust from whence it came.
Why, YOU might even find yourself lying next to Grandpa in the dirt.


The truth is GRANDPA is yesterday's jungle monkey chatter, they will have to elect a new baboon to run the jungle soon ! its not about when nimwit, it's about How you can make a difference Now that will decide the When !
HeloMenelo
4.5 / 5 (17) Jan 15, 2019
Continuous discovery of volcanoes in Antarctica has risen to such levels that it is now the densest population on the planet. So, the AGW Cult must follow by increasing their PATHOLOGICAL LIES just to sustain their dogma and feed their hungry and ignorant Chicken Littles.

Why looki here...I'ts monkey doo and he's stoked to attract his whole jungle of sock puppets, showing them the art of the swing... ;)
Old_C_Code
1 / 5 (6) Jan 15, 2019
Some of these so called scientists need to be place in prison for their MAJOR fraud which cost taxpayers of the world Trillions!


Amazingly, he also works at JPL. So he's spews another type of dark matter there no doubt.
Ken_Fabian
4.4 / 5 (7) Jan 15, 2019
Phys.org has so many readers who know better about climate change than teams of working climate scientists at the world's leading science agencies! Who suspected we were in such elite company?

Of course it is utter nonsense that any of these pseudonymous 'experts' know better; the essentials of every mainstream expert report have been the same for nearly 3 decades, whether commissioned by progressives or conservatives. Because that is the only reasonable science based conclusion. No conspiracy - of incompetence or of extremist ideology - gets the National Academy of Sciences and National Research Council to go along with it.

Real conspiracy, like real incompetence, would be exposed - real evidence leading to charges, not a couple of dubious phrases in a few emails - and opponents of climate action have had the investigative powers and would have used it if there were real evidence. No findings of conspiracy because no evidence; the the science, like it or not, is sound.
ddaye
not rated yet Jan 15, 2019
life .... survives by adapting.
Life just dies. only the offspring adapt.

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