Warming is underway, and its effects are increasingly visible: in a special edition of Nature, published while the scientific conference is taking place from Friday 15 June POLAR2018, several research teams sound the alarm on the melting of the sixth continent, whose speed is skyrocketing.
Led by satellite observation, the main study, conducted in the period 1992-2017, shows an acceleration of melting over the past five years. Between 1992 and 2011, Antarctica lost 76 billion tons (gigatonnes, Gt) of ice annually ; since 2012 this rate has almost tripled, rising to 219 Gt per year.
Direct consequence: sea level rise due to Antarctica alone is also accelerated. In the period 1992-2017, cast iron is responsible for an increase of 7.6 millimeters, of which 40 % (3 mm) from 2012.
The phenomenon is more marked in West Antarctica: from the 73 Gt lost per year between 1992 and 2012, the melting now amounts to 159 Gt / year, while the Antarctic Peninsula loses 33 Gt / year more 2012-17 against 16 GT / year in 1992-2011. Symptomatic of this debacle, even the colder East Antarctica went from a positive balance (+13 Gt / year compared to 1992-2011) to a negative balance (-28 Gt / year since 2012).
* Photo: Unusually shaped iceberg photographed at the Rothera Science Research Station on the Antarctic Peninsula (Andrew Shepherd, University of Leeds).
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