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

antarctica photo

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.

antarctic ice loss map image

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
Antarctica's Pine Island Glacier Melting Four Times Faster Than 10 Years Ago
Ice Loss in Antarctic Peninsula Unprecedented in 14,000 Years
West Antarctic Glacier Disintegrating Rapidly: First Hand Account

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