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Antarctica lost 127 Billion tons of ice in 2017-20, still losing rapidly

Antarctica lost 127 Billion tons of ice in 2017-20, still losing rapidly

The loss of the Greenland and Antarctic ice sheet is becoming more devastating. Figures and monitoring show us that it is shrinking at an alarming rate. Now, a recent report noted that they are losing three times as much ice a year as they were 30 years ago.

According to the results, published in Earth System Science Data, the researchers used 50 different satellite estimates. They also used the data on changes in gravity and the height of the ice and eventually measured how much snow fell, how much snow melted, and how much ice broke off the icebergs.

After several analyses, they found that the melting of Greenland has accelerated in recent years. For example, the melting of the Greenland ice sheet between 2017 and 2020 was 20% more than at the beginning of the decade and seven times greater than what was recorded in the early 1990s.

These figures, warns Ruth Mottram, a climate scientist at the Danish Meteorological Institute and co-author of the study, are alarming.

Ines Otosaka, a glaciologist at the University of Leeds in the United Kingdom and a co-author of the study, highlights another significant finding that drew the researchers’ attention. It indicates that between 1992 and 1996, the two ice sheets reduced by 116 billion tons annually.

Melting ice accelerating sea level

According to a study published in Earth System Science Data, the combined estimated melting of the two ice sheets increased to 372 billion metric tons per year from 2017 to 2020. Of this, more than two-thirds occurred in Greenland. Since 1992, the Earth has lost 7.6 trillion metric tons of ice from the two ice areas, which is equivalent to 15 meters of water covering France.

However, this melted ice has only added less than 21 millimeters to the world’s sea levels due to the vast size of the oceans. The study revealed that melting from ice sheets now accounts for more than 25 percent of sea level rise, up from five percent previously.

The rest of the sea level rise comes from warmer water expanding and melting ice from other glaciers. While the study showed slower melting in some parts of Antarctica, the long-term data suggests an increasing rate of melting there.

The research, funded by NASA and the European Space Agency, involved a team of over 65 scientists who used three different methods to measure the melting, as explained by Ines Otosaka, a co-author of the study and a glaciologist at the University of Leeds in the United Kingdom.

Antarctica losing ice rapidly

According to a study, Antarctica lost about 127 billion tons (115 billion metric tons) of ice annually from 2017 to 2020, which is a decrease of 23% compared to earlier in the decade but an overall increase of 64% from the early 1990s.

Mark Serreze, the director of the U.S. snow and ice center, who was not part of the study, warned that while mass loss from Greenland is higher, the behavior of the Thwaites glacier in Antarctica, nicknamed the Doomsday Glacier, is a cause for concern.

The study used changes in gravity and ice height and measured snowfall, snow melt, iceberg calving, and ice erosion by warmer water.

Rising sea levels resulting from ice melting will displace and financially impact millions or billions of people and cost trillions of dollars, warns Waleed Abdalati, a former NASA chief scientist and a University of Colorado ice researcher who was not involved in the study.

The study shows that ice responds rapidly to changing climate, which was not expected a few decades ago, says Abdalati.

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