Antarctica Is Losing Ice at an Accelerated Pace

The continent is sloughing ice six times as fast as it was in the 1980s

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The massive land-bound ice sheets that cover Antarctica are losing ice much faster than in recent decades, a new study has found. The southernmost continent is shedding ice more than six times as fast as it was just 40 years ago. In the 1980s, Antarctica lost about 40 gigatons (40 billion tons) of ice per year; in the past decade, that figure has climbed to 252 gigatons per year. The melt has raised global sea levels by 14 millimeters since 1979, found the study, which was published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences USAScientific American noted that the research showed ice was melting at accelerated rates even in East Antarctica, a region long believed to be more stable than its western counterpart. The widespread melting may be due to warm seawater circulating below the ice, researchers say.

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