East Antarctic Ice Loss Accelerating Since 2006 - 'Large Impact' on Future Sea Level Rise Possible


photo: Eli Duke via flickr.

With all the focus on the West Antarctic Ice Sheet melting, we could always take a small bit of comfort in knowing that the eastern part of the continent was comparatively stable. New research published in Nature Geoscience shows that comfort was misplaced: From 2002-2009 East Antarctica has been losing 5-109 gigatonnes of ice annually. And from 2006 that rate has been increasing:To put these new figures into some context, previously East Antarctic ice loss had been estimated to be as high as 22 gigatonnes per year and as low as gaining 4 gigatonnes.

The new ice loss rate was determined by using Gravity Recovery and Climate Experiment (GRACE) satellite data showing direct mass-change estimates at monthly intervals going back to 2002.

In total, Antarctica is losing ice at a rate of 113-267 gigatonnes per year, with 106-158 coming from West Antarctica.


image: Nature Geoscience

So what does this all mean? Report co-author Jianli Chen told Reuters, "This, if confirmed, could indicate a state change of East Antarctica which could post a large impact on global sea level rise in the future."

Remember that best-case scenario sea level rise predictions for 2100 are now at 50cm, with one meter or more possible.

Read the original: Accelerated Antarctic ice loss from satellite gravity measurements
Global Climate Change
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Ice Loss in Antarctic Peninsula Unprecedented in 14,000 Years
West Antarctic Glacier Disintegrating Rapidly: First Hand Account

Tags: Antarctica | Global Climate Change | Global Warming Effects

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