Dec. 2 (Bloomberg) — Antarctic glaciers are losing in
water weight the equivalent of Mt. Everest every two years, with
melting rates on part of the continent tripling over the past
A 21-year analysis by NASA and the University of California
at Irvine found that glaciers in the Amundsen Sea Embayment,
Antarctica’s fastest-melting region, lost an average of 83
gigatons of ice a year from 1992 to 2013, according to a
statement today from the American Geophysical Union, which is
publishing the findings in its journal. Earth’s highest peak
weighs about 161 gigatons.
“Most of the mass was lost in the last 10 years — things
happened way faster,” Isabella Velicogna, one of the paper’s
authors, said today in a phone interview.
Glaciers in the Amundsen Sea area contain enough water to
raise global sea levels by 4 feet (1.2 meters), according to
estimates from the National Aeronautics and Space
Administration. As the planet warms, monitoring changes in
global ice sheets will be critical, Velicogna said.
“That’s why we care about this area,” she said. “There’s
a lot of water stored, a lot of ice.”
The researchers evaluated four sets of data ranging from
1992 through 2013 that showed the pace at which glaciers
disappeared accelerated by an average of 6.1 gigatons a year. In
the years where all of those data sets overlapped — 2003 to
2009 — the melt rate jumped to 16.3 gigatons per year.
“This is going to impact sea level,” she said. “I don’t
see it stopping.
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