Antarctica Loses Ice From East as Well as West

Nov. 23 (Bloomberg) -- Antarctica is losing ice from its larger eastern side as well as the western part, an indication the southernmost continent may add “significantly more” to rising seas, researchers in Texas said.

The eastern sheet lost ice at a rate of about 57 billion metric tons a year from 2002 to 2009, contributing to the continent’s total annual average loss of about 190 billion tons, scientists at the University of Texas at Austin said in the journal Nature Geoscience.

United Nations scientists in 2007 said most of Antarctica’s contribution to rising sea levels amid global warming comes from the western sheet, with the eastern part either holding steady or gaining mass. The latest findings for East Antarctica are “surprising” because they differ from other estimates, said glaciologist Jonathan Bamber, who wasn’t involved in the study.

Global warming appears to be having a damaging effect on the Antarctic ice as study results indicate that it is melting faster than thought.

Since 2006, the East Antarctic icesheet, which was believed to be untouchable by global warming has lost billions of tons of ice. Researchers say that since 2006, East Antarctica has been losing up to 57 billion tons of ice each year.

The West Antarctic icesheet is also losing volume, even at a faster rate than the eastern icesheet.

Up until a few years ago, these icesheets were not losing water at all, and have just started to do so since 2006. This is as one may guess, is not good, and could result in increased sea levels over time.

The 2 bodies of ice contain enough water to push up the global sea level by about 7 meters if they were to actually melt away.

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