Study: Melted Antarctic ice drowning coasts
Global warming has caused over 3 trillion tons of ice to melt from Antarctica in the past quarter-century and tripled ice loss there in the past decade, a new study finds.
The total is equivalent to over 4 quintillion gallons of water added to the world’s oceans, making Antarctica’s melting ice sheets one of the largest contributors to rising sea levels. That amount of water is enough to fill over a billion swimming pools and cover Texas to a depth of nearly 13 feet.
“Even though Antarctica is far from most human civilization, its ice sheet is losing mass to the ocean, and is an increasing contribution to sea-level rise,” said study co-author Helen Amanda Fricker, a glaciologist at Scripps Institution of Oceanography. This “will have large impacts on coastlines all around all the world.
“The future we choose could determine when we need to rebuild airports, cities and infrastructure so that we can become resilient to such changes.”
Overall, scientists say, the melting ice in Antarctica is responsible for about one-third of all sea-level rise around the world.
The cause is clearly due to the warming world, with temperatures boosted by the increased amount of carbon dioxide humanity emits from the burning of fossil fuels such as gas, oil and coal.
“We are able to say that the increased ice loss is mainly due to ocean-driven melting in West Antarctica,” Shepherd said. “The ocean is about 1 degree (F) too warm for the ice, and it is melting and retreating as a result.” He said this matches the temperature changes our planet has experienced, on average, during the industrial era.