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Earth NASA Science

Antarctica Is Losing Ice Faster Every Year ( 268

A survey of satellite data published in the journal Cryosphere confirms what scientists have suspected for a while now: ice loss from the critical region of Antarctica is happening at an increasingly fast pace. Quartz reports: In total, researchers found that Antarctica lost roughly 1,929 gigatons of ice in 2015, which amounts to an increase of roughly 36 gigatons per year every year since 2008. (A gigaton is one billion tons.) Nearly 90% of that increase in loss occurred in West Antarctica, "probably in response to ocean warming," according to NASA. The new data analysis mostly confirms other recent research, but does so with a higher degree of precision by using a new technique that can process a larger amount of satellite data than was possible before.

West Antarctica has been losing a lot of ice in recent years, and at an ever-growing pace, while East Antarctica is losing ice more steadily. The West Antarctic ice sheet is of particular concern because, like a building that stands on an uneven foundation, it is inherently unstable, making it especially vulnerable to the warming climate. If the entire ice sheet were destabilized and melted into the sea, researchers estimate it would lead to 3 meters (9 feet) of sea level rise globally. Models suggest that under a low-emissions scenario, where the world commits to "peaking" and then steadily reducing emissions in the near future, complete destabilization of the West Antarctic ice sheet is possible to avoid. But under medium- or high-emissions scenarios, the loss of the ice sheet becomes inevitable.

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Antarctica Is Losing Ice Faster Every Year

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  • Sadly (Score:3, Insightful)

    by rmdingler ( 1955220 ) on Thursday February 22, 2018 @09:38PM (#56173291) Journal
    Even when the ice melt has destroyed cities, creating new borders for nations with lands near sea level, there will still be deniers claiming a population of 7 billion humans had nothing to do with it... despite the historic release of sequestered carbon associated with our species' selfish, expected level of comfort.
    • by pubwvj ( 1045960 )

      Part of the problem is that it really isn't obvious to the casual observer.

      For example, I've been going to Cape Cod (Mass) for over 50 years. In that time the sea level has remained the same. It has not changed in any significant, meaningful, observable manner that has any impact on the man on the street, or at the beach.

      This lack of observable change makes it hard to appreciate.

      There is another problem and that is the hoopla about global warming distracts from a far more imminent and disastrous change that

      • Exactly. People are worrying about global warming causing cities to flood, yet don't think about how the loss of buffer habitat (swamps, etc) is what is causing flooding now. People are stupid. The most immediate danger is local pollution and habitat loss. THAT is going to kill you.
    • You would think that even if there was a 10% probability that any of the dire predictions scientists are making about affects of nan made green house gas emissions were true, that regardless of the 90% chance that they were wrong, based on the 10% probability that they are right, you might just shut the f*ck up, err on the side of caution, stop this useless debate (of morons) and get on with what needs to be done.

    • by jafac ( 1449 )

      They will blame gays. And Crisis Actors. And Obama.

    • by bigpat ( 158134 )

      there will still be deniers claiming a population of 7 billion humans had nothing to do with it

      Over population is the problem. We need a more generous child tax credit in the US limited to 2 children and we need to reduce immigration to force other countries to deal with their overpopulation and we need nuclear power.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    Itâ(TM)s gaining ice per renowned scientist Rush Limbaugh and the high school drop outs who listen to him.

  • by BlueCoder ( 223005 ) on Thursday February 22, 2018 @09:54PM (#56173377)

    I honestly looked this up two weeks ago. I live in Los Angeles and if all the ice north and south melts it really doesn't look all that much different here. To be honest most places do not have the nice warm weather we have here but it looks like that will change and there will actually be more ideal weather in higher northern latitudes. So it suggests to me I should get off my butt and save for some northern real estate. Northern California here I come.

    • by HiThere ( 15173 )

      Do note that 3 meter rise, however. I'm not sure whether or not that's enough to flood the San Joaquin valley, but if it is expect the weather to change massively.

      For that matter, the Salton Sea is likely to refill with salt water, and so is any place else that's low.

      OTOH, you've got a few decades to move, so no need to rush, land prices are already so high that you wouldn't gain much.

      • Do note that 3 meter rise, however. I'm not sure whether or not that's enough to flood the San Joaquin valley,

        No, not even close, actually.

  • We're fucked, sorry for the language but we're fucked, entirely.

    Still, it shocks me how many times I have to explain to my girl (and friends and family) why we shouldn't be god damn breeding.

    Not long now, it's exponential (for the most part)

    • by ichthus ( 72442 )

      Wow. I bet everyone loves you at dinner parties.

    • Still, it shocks me how many times I have to explain to my girl (and friends and family) why we shouldn't be god damn breeding.

      Most guys try to explain to their girl why they *should* be breeding.

    • And yet you still use the energy hungry Internet in the comfort of your home for entertainment purposes. Amazing.
    • by HiThere ( 15173 )

      I *think* you're too pessimistic. We won't hold to 2 degrees Centigrade, and we may not hold to 4, and it's quite probable that the sea levels will indeed rise 3 meters, or slightly more. But that's not an insuperable problem. It's going to mean hard times for lots of people, animals, plants, etc., but there are also a lot who will do well. I doubt that it will cause civilization to fall unless somebody starts WWIII.

      Expect this to cause a significantly degraded environment, largely due to the fact that

  • We are only 15-25,000 years out of the last ice age in a 110,000 year cycle.

    Since we are most likely to continue to warm for some 10s of thousands of years, based on past cycles, it seems inevitable that Antarctica is doomed to lose its major ice sheets, whether mankind does anything about emissions or not.

  • It doesn't matter what the science says. I simply does not matter. Humanity is going to eat the planet. Humanity is going to burn every molecule of hydrocarbons in can get its paws on. No laws, no international agreements, no nothing - it does not mean shit.

    This thing is a juggernaut, and step out of the way if you can (but you can't, really). The money power wins. No, this thing is going to play itself out.

    Good luck to us all!

  • My bad. My drinking problem seems to be getting out of hand, and it takes a lot of ice to keep my bloody marys cold.


    I said I'm sorry.

    Well then you sleep with me, that's one night I won't shrink the ice shelf. furfuksake, it ain't hard.

    FFS, what's your virginity against the environment? Take one for the team. Hell, take one for the planet!
  • This article, or some variant, is reposted to /. every week.

  • Pick one:

    a) Fortunately Antarctica is a myth, so there's no cause for concern.

    b) We're going to be in deep shit when the penguiform balrogs thaw out of the ice.

  • Idiots on parade. (Score:5, Informative)

    by Charcharodon ( 611187 ) on Friday February 23, 2018 @12:04AM (#56173949)
    Isn't that the portion of Antarctica that has a large active volcano range (as in around 100) under it. Yep there is the article. []

  • When the last cube of ice melts... thats when the temp starts going up... alot. Time for the worlds scientists to get concurrence on environmental status and trending so we can share FACTS rather making it a case of Fealty or Opinion or interpretation. We need fact Dammit!
  • Seems legit (Score:3, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday February 23, 2018 @12:11AM (#56174003)

    So if I read this right they are comparing 2008 data collected by synthetic aperture radar to 2013-15 data obtained from Landsat 7 and 8 imagery.
    They optimize calculations for idealized flow rates and produce these values with overlapping error margins and declare a conclusion based on 2 calculated data points using two different observation and calculation methods.

    Discharge (Gt yr1)
    2008: 1894 ± 43 (synthetic aperture radar)
    2015: 1929 ± 40 (Landsat 7 and 8 imagery)

    Seems legit to me...

  • by Solandri ( 704621 ) on Friday February 23, 2018 @01:05AM (#56174173)
    1929 Gt is the absolute loss, not the net gain/loss. From the first page of the paper:

    1 Introduction

    The Antarctic ice sheet receives roughly 2000 Gt (â¼ 5.5 mm sea-level equivalent) of precipitation each year with > 90 % of this mass leaving as solid ice discharge to the ocean and the remaining [less than] 10 % leaving in the form of sublimation, wind-driven snow transport, meltwater runoff and basal melt.

    2000 Gt gain > 1929 Gt loss. The uncertainty over how much is lost via sublimation and water runoff clouds whether Antarctica has a net gain or loss of ice.

    The last study I saw on this [] (from 2015 based on satellite data) concluded the net effect is Antarctica is gaining ice.

  • by Darkling-MHCN ( 222524 ) on Friday February 23, 2018 @02:06AM (#56174349)

    Since when did Slashdot get inundated in quasi-intellectual climate sceptics?

  • So, just 4 years ago NASA published this. []

    After a period of unusually high amounts, why would it be surprising to see a regression to the mean?


  • And a ton is 1,000kg. Also, ice is the solid form of water that occurs below 273.15K and standard pressure.

The earth is like a tiny grain of sand, only much, much heavier.