University of Leeds

Measuring Antarctic ice melting

International research led by Leeds and the Jet Propulsion Laboratory shows that Antarctic ice is melting faster than ever before.

The rate of melting from the Antarctic ice sheet has tripled in the last five years. Professor Andrew Shepherd at the University of Leeds and Dr Erik Ivins at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory led a team of 84 scientists from around the world to produce the most complete picture of Antarctic change since records began in the 1990s.

The authors combined 24 satellite surveys of the continent in a project supported by the European Space Agency (ESA) and the US National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA).

Prior to 2012, Antarctica lost ice at a steady rate of 76 billion tonnes per year – a 0.2 mm per year contribution to sea level rise. This research shows there has been a sharp, threefold increase, with ice sheets losses pushing sea levels up by a 0.6 mm per year.

The change is due to ocean melting of ice in West Antarctica and ice shelf collapse at the Antarctic Peninsula – which are both signals of global climate change.

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