Antarctica Melt Increase Confirmed

June 13, 2018

Above, I interviewed Glaciologist Jonathan Bamber of the University of Bristol in December at the American Geophysical Union Fall Meeting in New Orleans.

I wanted to ask him to comment on a point I had heard in regard to Antarctica, that, as the planet warmed, the atmospheric water vapor would increase ( warmer air holds more moisture), therefore, more snow could be expected on Antarctica, balancing out any possible increased losses around the edges.
One obvious question arises – how then to account for very high known sea level in past epochs?  There are some other flies in the icecap as well.

Below – today’s big news is pretty grim insofar as huge jump in Antarctic melt has been pretty reliably recorded by an international team.


Carbon Brief:

The rate of sea level rise resulting from the melting of the Antarctic ice sheet has tripled over the past five years, according to new research from a global team of scientists.

The study, published in Nature, finds that ice loss from Antarctica has caused sea levels to rise by 7.6mm from 1992-2017, with two fifths of this increase occurring since 2012.

At a press conference held in London, scientists said the results suggest that Antarctica has become “one of the largest contributors to sea level rise”.

A glaciologist not involved in the paper tells Carbon Brief that the findings show “there now should be no doubt that Antarctica is losing ice due to regional climate change, likely linked to global warming”.


Melting continent

The new research was carried out by a team of scientists from the Ice Sheet Mass Balance Inter-comparison Exercise (IMBIE). The international group was established in 2011 with the aim of creating a comprehensive view of how melting in world’s polar regions could be contributing to sea level rise.

In its last assessment report, released in 2012, it found that ice melt in Antarctica was causing global sea levels to rise by 0.2mm a year. (Over the past two decades, global sea levels have risen around 3.2mm a year in total.)

However, the new analysis finds that Antarctic ice melt is now driving sea level rise of 0.6mm a year – suggesting that the rate of melting has increased three-fold in just five years.

The results show that Antarctic ice melt has become “one of the largest contributors to sea level rise”, says Prof Andrew Shepherd, co-leader of IMBIE and director of the Natural Environment Research Council (NERC) Centre for Polar Observation based at the University of Leeds.

Speaking on the sidelines of a press conference held in London, he explains the significance of the new findings to Carbon Brief.



UPDATE: Washington Post:

Antarctica’s ice sheet is melting at a rapidly increasing rate, now pouring more than 200 billion tons of ice into the ocean annually and raising sea levels a half-millimeter every year, a team of 80 scientists reported Wednesday.

The melt rate has tripled in the past decade, the study concluded. If the acceleration continues, some of scientists’ worst fears about rising oceans could be realized, leaving low-lying cities and communities with less time to prepare than they had hoped.

The result also reinforces that nations have a short window — perhaps no more than a decade — to cut greenhouse-gas emissions if they hope to avert some of the worst consequences of climate change.

Antarctica, the planet’s largest ice sheet, lost 219 billion tons of ice annually from 2012 through 2017 — approximately triple the 73 billion-ton melt rate of a decade ago, the scientists concluded. From 1992 through 1997, Antarctica lost 49 billion tons of ice annually.

The study is the product of a large group of Antarctic experts who collectively reviewed 24 recent measurements of Antarctic ice loss, reconciling their differences to produce the most definitive figures yet on changes in Antarctica. Their results — known formally as the “Ice Sheet Mass Balance Inter-Comparison Exercise” (IMBIE) — were published Wednesday in the journal Nature.

Not just an ordinary paper, this is IMBIE – the Ice Mass Balance Intercomparison Exercise — consortium of heavyweights including NASA and European Space Agency – plus others.
That’s a huge jump. No guarantee that will continue – but should be sobering to all.

Below, Bamber and a host of other experts weigh in for a 7 minute sea level clinic.

7 Responses to “Antarctica Melt Increase Confirmed”

  1. Boyd Carter Says:

    When are you going to add volcanic activity under West Antarctica as the likely cause of melting.

  2. ted knopper Says:

    There is a tiny problem with this claim. If you look at various tidal data from NOAA, Brisbane for example, the long term increase is .99 mm a year and since 2009 has been essentially flat with a slight decrease. That is not the only tidal gauge which shows this happening. I bet the study referenced in this article did not exclude land moving up and down so is essentially measuring everything but actual ocean rise. Here is Brisbane for your review.

    • leslie graham Says:

      Dear oh dear.

    • grindupbaker Says:

      I heard they steer the Topex satellite hard right near Brisbane like you’re saying but now they’re saying it’s just so’s some Aussie won’t bung a boomerang at it and knock it down. Who can you really trust nowadays when there’s quality scientists like wot you are saying different.

    • Andy Lee Robinson Says:

      Ted shows us a picture of a hamburger and therefore proves world hunger doesn’t exist.

      The ocean is not like a bathtub. Sea level near Greenland and Antarctica will actually drop as the ice dwindles and its gravitational attraction falls, so the ocean will recede and bump up sea level disproportionate in the tropics, and especially Florida.

  3. Sir Charles Says:

    The pie charts show the contributions of individual components of the sea-level budget (expressed in percentage of the observed global mean sea level) for two periods, 1993–2004 and 2004–2015. It clearly shows that the magnitude of almost all components has increased in recent years, particularly melting of the polar ice sheets, mostly in Greenland and to a lesser extent in Antarctica. Accelerated ice-mass loss from the ice sheets is the main cause of acceleration of the global mean sea-level rise, as revealed by satellite altimetry.

    • grindupbaker Says:

      It’s good to show distributions because thermal expansion is linear with warming so it partially masks in the aggregate anything that’s exponential such as ice loss.

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