Antarctica's Melting Speed Doubles

Compared to measurements just a few years ago

By Matt Cantor,  Newser Staff

Posted May 19, 2014 11:07 AM CDT

(Newser) – If we needed more disturbing news on a melting Antarctica, scientists are supplying it. Days after we learned that the melting of the West Antarctica ice sheet is apparently unstoppable, researchers find that the continent is disappearing twice as quickly as it was when last measured. Information from Europe's CryoSat spacecraft show that Antarctic ice is now melting at a rate of 160 billion metric tons, or 176 billion short tons, per year, the BBC reports.

That rate will raise sea levels by about .017 inches yearly. Antarctica in its entirety, meanwhile, is dropping by about .79 inches per year. The new study focuses on data from the years 2010 to 2013; the previous data reflected the years 2005 to 2010. "We find that ice losses continue to be most pronounced in West Antarctica, along the fast-flowing ice streams that drain into the Amundsen Sea," says a researcher.

In this Dec. 1, 2009 file photo provided by Aurora Expeditions, an inflatable boat carries tourists past an iceberg along the Antarctic Peninsula.   (AP Photo/Aurora Expeditions, Andrew Halsall, File)
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