Melting Rate of Glaciers in West Antarctica Tripling


One region in West Antarctica is losing the equivalent weight in ice of Mount Everest every two years, with the melting rate of glaciers there nearly tripling in the last decade, according to a new study from the University of California-Irvine and NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory. The study, scheduled for publication in the journal Geophysical Research Letters, compared four measurement techniques used over varying periods from 1992 to 2013 in the Amundsen Sea Embayment, the fastest-melting region of Antarctica, according to a release from the university.

The total ice lost averaged 83 gigatons (91.5 billion U.S. tons) per year, according to the release. With Everest’s weight estimated at 161 gigatons, that one part of West Antarctica lost the equivalent of the weight of the world’s tallest mountain every two years. What’s more, the loss rate has accelerated an average of 6.1 gigatons (6.7 billion U.S. tons) per year since 1992, the release said. And from 2003 to 2009, the increase averaged 16.3 gigatons per year.

Gil Aegerter

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