Antarctic Ice Began to Melt Faster Than Thought: Study

Antarctica is losing ice from its larger eastern side as well as the western part, an indication the southernmost continent may add "significantly more" to rising seas, researchers in Texas said.

The eastern sheet lost ice at a rate of about 57 billion metric tons a year from 2002 to 2009, contributing to the continent’s total annual average loss of about 190 billion tons, scientists at the University of Texas at Austin said in the journal Nature Geoscience, Bloomberg informs.

Since the 1997 international accord to fight global warming, climate change has worsened and accelerated — beyond some of the grimmest of warnings made back then.

As the world has talked for a dozen years about what to do next, new ship passages opened through the once frozen summer sea ice of the Arctic. In Greenland and Antarctica, ice sheets have lost trillions of tons of ice. Mountain glaciers in Europe, South America, Asia and Africa are shrinking faster than before, The Associated Press reports.

University of Texas professor Jianli Chen and colleagues reviewed seven years of information over ocean-ice sheet interaction in Antarctica. The information was gathered by the twin GRACE satellites, which identify mass flows in the ocean and polar areas by calculating shifts in Earth's gravity field.

The researchers discovered that West Antarctica poured approximately 132 billion tons of ice into the ocean annually. They also noted that East Antarctica is also melting, specifically in coastal areas.

"Acceleration of ice loss in recent years over the entire continent is thus indicated," the authors wrote. "Antarctica may soon be contributing significantly more to global sea level rise," Red Orbit informs.

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