TIME climate change

Antarctica’s Ice Losses Double, Study Says

A European study based on data from Europe's Cryosat satellite shows the continent is now losing an annual total of about 160 billion metric tons of ice, enough to push global sea levels up by 0.43mm a year

A new study shows that the Antarctica is now losing about 160 billion metric tons of ice a year, twice as much as when the continent was last surveyed.

The study, based on data from Europe’s Cryosat satellite, warns that the melt loss is sufficient to push up global sea levels by 0.43mm per year. Cryosat has been using a radar instrument specifically designed to measure the shape of the ice sheet. The study found that losses in West Antarctica were almost a third greater now than over the period 2005–2011.

The new research published in Geophysical Research Letters comes out shortly after scientists at the University of California and NASA raised the alarm last week that the world has passed the ‘point of no return‘ on Antarctic glacier loss, cautioning that the melt is now effectively unstoppable.

Cryosat was launched by the European Space Agency in 2010 to measure changes both in the South and North pole. The new study includes three years of measurements from 2010 to 2013 and also updates older results obtained by previous observations.

“CryoSat has given us a new understanding of how Antarctica has changed over the last three years and allowed us to survey almost the entire continent,” lead author Dr Malcolm McMillan from the NERC Centre for Polar Observation and Modelling at Leeds University, UK told the BBC. The study found the ice sheet is falling by an average of almost 2cm a year.



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