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Earth’s ice loss accelerating, scientists say

Researchers have concluded that Earth’s ice loss is picking up speed, with the Antarctic  and Greenland ice sheets losing three times as much mass each year as they were during the 1990s.

Data obtained via satellite and aircraft observations indicate that the Greenland ice sheets are experiencing the most rapid annual deterioration. 

“Both ice sheets appear to be losing more ice now than 20 years ago, but the pace of ice loss from Greenland is extraordinary, with nearly a five-fold increase since the mid-1990s,” Erik Ivins, a scientist at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, said.

A paper published Thursday in Science indicates that about two-thirds of an annual 0.95 millimeter increase in sea levels worldwide is accounted for by Greenland’s ice loss.

Overall, melting of the Antarctic and Greenland ice sheets have caused sea levels to rise by 11.1 millimeters, or about twenty percent of Earth’s total sea level increase, since 1992.

The new study clarifies the extent to which Antarctic ice loss is occurring. The 2007 report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change suggested that no conclusion regarding Antarctic ice loss was possible.

Forty-seven researchers at 26 different laboratories worked together on the Science paper. After years of independent reports based on uncoordinated systems for interpreting ice loss data, the scientists developed a common measurement system. 


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