Antarctica is losing land ice much faster than previously measured. Overall, Antarctica is losing 159 billion (“yes, billion, with a b”) tons of ice every year. That’s enough land ice from Antarctica to push global sea levels up by 0.43 millimeters (0.017 inch) per year. We are talking about land ice here, not sea ice, which has been spreading out around Antarctica in recent winters. Previous measurements (made from 2005 to 2010) were lower, closer to 100 billion tons per year. The new information comes from CryoSat, a European Space Agency Earth-observing satellite. Cryosat has been using a radar instrument specifically designed to measure the shape of the ice sheet. The new information is published online in the journal Geophysical Research Letters. It comes out only about a week after scientists at the University of California and NASA announced that the loss of six major Antarctic glacier to the sea appears inevitable and in the same week that the Union of Concerned Scientists released a report showing 30 U.S. landmarks at risk from climate change.
Deborah Byrd created the EarthSky radio series in 1991 and EarthSky.org in 1994. Today, she serves as Editor-in-Chief of this website. She has won a galaxy of awards from the broadcasting and science communities, including having an asteroid named 3505 Byrd in her honor. A science communicator and educator since 1976, Byrd believes in science as a force for good in the world and a vital tool for the 21st century. "Being an EarthSky editor is like hosting a big global party for cool nature-lovers," she says.