"With the number of scientific studies focusing on this region, the technological tools we have at our disposal and data sets spanning several decades, we have an unequivocal picture of what's happening in Antarctica", Eric Rignot, an Earth system science professor at the University of California Irvine who participated in the research, said in a statement.
In a controversial 2016 study, former NASA scientist James Hansen and a team of colleagues (including Velicogna) found that the Earth could see sea level rise above 1 meter (or 3.3 feet) within 50 years if polar ice sheet loss doubles every 10 years. That loss made global oceans rise about three-tenths of an inch, or 7.6 millimeters.
From 1992 through 1997, Antarctica lost 49 billion tons of ice annually.
They discovered that Antarctica is now losing ice about three times faster than it did until 2012, climbing to a rate of more than 241 billion tons (219 billion metric tons) per year. "We will not necessarily see exclusively rapid retreat, " said Christianson, noting that as glaciers like Pine Island retreat backwards down a submarine, downhill slope, they will sometimes encounter bumps that slow down their movement. The researchers, who used satellite data going back more than 25 years, say most of the melting ice comes from the West Antarctic sheet, parts of which are in a "state of collapse"-and modest ice growth in the East Antarctic is nowhere near enough to offset it".
IMBIE was established with the support of NASA and the European Space Agency, to monitor the changes in ice-sheet cover around the world.
Between 60 and 90 percent of the world's fresh water is located in Antarctica - the size of Mexico and the United States combined - and if that were to all melt, sea levels would shoot up by nearly 61 metres, which would prove catastrophic for billions of people around the world.
Outside experts praised the work as authoritative.
That's adding 0.6 of a millimetre to sea levels each year. A single East Antarctic glacier, Totten, has the potential to unleash as much total sea level rise as the entire West Antarctic ice sheet, or more. "When we look into the ocean we find that it's too warm and the ice sheet can't withstand the temperatures that are surrounding it in the sea", he says.
"If we aren't already alert to the dangers posed by climate change, this should be an enormous wake-up call", he added.
Shepherd cautioned that this is not a formal study that determines human fingerprints on climate events.
While some people blame climate change for the rapid melting ice caps, others blame underground heat sources such as volcanoes. The water nibbles at the floating edges of ice sheets from below.
"Antarctica is being affected by global warming, and unless we curtail our CO2 emissions within the next decade, and have a zero carbon economy within a few decades, we will be locked into substantial global changes, including those in Antarctica and the Southern Ocean".
The researchers concluded that the changes in East Antarctica were not almost enough to make up for the rapid loss seen in West Antarctica and the Antarctic Peninsula.
"The power of this research is that it brings together independent methods and results from a collection of different teams throughout the world", noted Twila Moon, a scientist at the US National Snow and Ice Data Center in Colorado.
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