Polar ice sheets are melting six times faster than in 1990s

Polar ice sheets are melting six times faster than in 1990s

Earth's great ice sheets, Greenland and Antarctica, are now losing mass six times faster than they were in the 1990s thanks to warming conditions.

An analysis by the Ice Sheet Mass Balance Intercomparison Exercise (IMBIE), an global collaboration of polar scientists, reveals that polar ice caps in Greenland and Anractica are melting six times faster than they were in the 1990s.

Last summer's Arctic heat wave will likely top the 2011 record for polar ice sheet loss of 552 billion tons, they reported in a pair of studies published Wednesday in Nature.

That is roughly the equivalent of eight Olympic pools draining into the ocean every second.

While less visible than climate-enhanced hurricanes, rising seas may ultimately prove the most devastating of global warming impacts.

Just a few added centimeters of water can lead to more intense and destructive tropical storms that are being initiated by climate change.

"If Antarctica and Greenland continue to alienate themselves with the worst-case scenario of global warming, they will cause an additional 17 centimeters to rise in sea level at the end of the century", said in a statement Andrew Shepherd of the University of Leeds, adding that 400 million people would be at risk.

This is approximately a third of the rise prediction for 2100 by the U.N.'s climate science advisory panel according to a scenario midway between a quick drawdown of worldwide greenhouse gases, and the insane expansion of fossil fuel use, seen as unlikely.

Melting glaciers and the expansion of ocean water as it warms accounted for most sea level rise through the 20th century.

"It's only half a degrees centigrade above freezing but it's enough to cause the glaciers to destabilise and to pour more ice into the sea". Scientists have concluded that around half of the ice lost from Greenland, and almost all of it lost from Antarctica is a direct result of the rising temperature of the ocean water, which has been caused by global warming.

The rate of ice loss in each ice sheet also increased substantially over that period, rising from a combined 89 billion tons (81 billion metric tons) per year in the 1990s to 523 billion tons (475 billion metric tons) per year in the 2010s.

Ivins also stated that computer simulations obtained from satellite images reveal climate change scenarios more strikingly.

In the year 2013, the IPCC predicted that the global sea level will increase by 60 centimetres by the year 2100.

The scientists fed emissions data to a sea level emulator to predict the oceans' rise.

Over the last decade, the sea level has risen about 4 millimeters per year. But moving into the 22nd century, the waterline is likely to go up ten times faster, even under an optimistic emissions scenario.

Earth's overall surface temperature has warmed one degree Celsius (1.8 degrees Fahrenheit) during pre-industrial levels, but polar areas have heated up twice as much.

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