NASA finds massive ice losses in Antarctica

The melting is "probably in response to ocean warming". Source: Getty

A new NASA study found accelerating ice losses in western Antarctica and a steady flow of ice melting in eastern Antarctica.

A new NASA study has confirmed that Antarctica is losing ice faster every year.

The study - which crunched data from hundreds of thousands of Landsat satellite images - found western Antarctica in particular was experiencing huge ice melting.

NASA said the snapshot was "the clearest picture yet" of how fast Antarctica is losing ice.

The flow of Antarctic ice.
The flow of Antarctic ice.
NASA Earth Observatory

Calculations revealed that 1,929 gigatons of ice broke away from the continent in 2015 - an increase of 36 gigatons per year from 2008.

A gigaton is one billion tons.

NASA said the fastest speed-up of glacier melt during the seven-year study period was in Marguerite Bay, on the western Antarctic Peninsula, "probably in response to ocean warming".

While the rate of ice flow into the ocean in eastern Antarctica essentially showed no change.

The study’s lead author, cryospheric researcher Alex Gardner, said NASA can now "map ice flow over nearly the entire continent, every year".

"With these new data, we can begin to unravel the mechanisms by which the ice flow is speeding up or slowing down in response to changing environmental conditions."

This comes only days after another study using NASA and European satellite data found that global sea level rise had been accelerating in recent decades, rather than increasing steadily.

"It's a big deal," lead author Steve Nerem said.

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