Polar Ice Sheets Melting 3 Times Faster Than Two Decades Ago

Kitty Terwolbeck/CC BY 2.0

Let there be no doubt that the poles are melting more quickly now than they have in the past: New research supported by NASA and the European Space Agency shows that the combined rate of melting of ice sheets in Greenland and Antarctica is increasing, with melting happening now at three times the rate it did in the 1990s.

Two thirds of the melting is happening in Greenland, with one third in Antarctica.

Today the ice sheets are melting each year at a rate equivalent to 0.04" of sea level rise, compared to 0.01" two decades ago.

Since 1992 this ice sheet melt has contributed 0.44" to global sea level rise, or one-fifth of observed sea level rise, with the remainder coming from a combination of melting mountain glaciers, thermal expansion of the ocean as it warms, and other causes.

The researchers say the latest assessment of ice loss is more than twice as accurate as previous ones, due to the inclusion of more satellite data.

Tags: Global Climate Change | Global Warming Science