Antarctica’s Ice Sheet Is Melting Three Times Faster Than We Thought

Antarctica’s ice sheet is melting three times faster than previously forecasted, according to a report published Wednesday in the journal Nature by 80 scientists. The team said that the ice sheet is melting so fast that 219 billion tons of ice is pouring into the ocean annually—enough to raise sea levels by a half millimeter per year. Between 1992 and 1997, Antarctica was losing 49 billion times of ice per year; from 2012 to 2017, that number increased more than eightfold, according to the Ice Sheet Mass Balance Inter-comparison Exercise. At this rate of acceleration, scientists warn that oceans would rise faster than ever, which means a reduced amount of time for low-lying communities to prepare adequately. “We’re still talking about roughly a half a millimeter per year,” one scientist told The Washington Post. “That isn’t going to sound horribly unmanageable. But remember for the northern hemisphere, for North America, the fact that the location in West Antarctica is where the action is amplifies that rate of sea level rise by up to an about additional 25 percent in a city like Boston or New York.”