Antarctica’s ice is melting faster and the seas are rising

Most of the world’s fresh water is found frozen in Antarctica.  And, that ice is melting today–and the melting is happening at an increasing rate.  A new study estimates that the rate of melting “has tripled since 2007.”  At this rate, the melting ice will “contribute 6 inches to sea-level rise by 2100.”

While this may not seem threatening occurring over decades, it will cause substantially increased coastal flooding; many coastal areas globally are highly populated.  For example, “around Brooklyn (New York, USA) you get flooding once a year or so, but if you raise sea level by 15 centimeters (6 inches) then that’s going to happen 20 times a year.”

“Between 1992 and 2017, Antarctica lost 3 trillion tons of ice.”  40% of that occurred since 2012.  And, melting ice is not only happening in Antarctica, “Greenland lost an estimated 1 trillion tons of ice between 2011 and 2014“, and there are many other areas of substantial ice loss as well.  The melting ice and warming sea water have “all been primarily driven by human emissions of greenhouse gases.”  “The rate of sea level rise due to Antarctic ice loss has tripled since 2012.”  The main driver of the Antarctic ice melt is actually the edges of the ice sheets interacting with warming ocean water–“forces that you can’t reverse easily.”

Sea level rise is impacting people living on coasts today–including and especially in the U.S.  The economic costs will be immense.  What can we do to mitigate and adapt?

Read the article (Kendra Pierre-Louis, New York Times, June 13, 2018).

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