Antarctic ice melting at accelerated pace, study finds

Antarctic ice melting at accelerated pace, study finds
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The rate at which Antarctica is losing its ice has dramatically accelerated in recent years, according to new research from a team of scientists.

A group of 80 Antarctic experts said that in the two decades prior to 2012, the continent lost about 76 billion tons of ice annually, which caused about 0.2 millimeters of sea-level rise a year.

But between 2012 and 2017, the annual ice loss rate tripled to about 219 billion tons, or 0.6 millimeters of sea-level rise.

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The findings were published Wednesday in Nature. Researchers say the data should sound a major alarm about human-induced climate change.

“With the number of scientific studies focusing on this region, the technological tools we have at our disposal and data sets spanning several decades, we have an unequivocal picture of what’s happening in Antarctica,” Eric Rignot, an Earth system science professor at the University of California Irvine who participated in the research, said in a statement.

“We are confident in our understanding of ice mass change in Antarctica and its impact on sea levels. We view these results as another ringing alarm for action to slow the warming of our planet.”

Antarctica holds enough ice to increase sea levels 58 meters, the researchers said.

West Antarctica experienced the most acceleration in ice loss among regions studied during the research period, growing from 53 billion tons a year in the 1990s to 159 billion tons annually in the final five years.