Antarctic ice loss has tripled in a decade. If that continues we are in serious trouble.

Antarctica’s ice sheet is melting at rapidly increasing rate, now pouring more than 200 billion tons of ice into the ocean annually and raising sea levels a half millimeter every year, a team of 80 scientists has reported.

The melt rate has tripled in the past decade, the study concluded. If the acceleration continues, some of scientists’ worst fears about rising oceans could be realized, leaving low-lying cities and communities with less time to prepare than they’d hoped.

The result also reinforces that nations have a short window — perhaps no more than a decade — to cut greenhouse gas emissions if they hope to avert some of the worst consequences of climate change.

Antarctica, the planet’s largest ice sheet, lost 219 billion tons of ice annually from 2012 through 2017 — approximately triple the 73 billion ton melt rate of a decade ago, the scientists concluded. From 1992 through 1997, Antarctica lost 49 billion tons of ice annually.

For the total period from 1992 through the present, the ice sheet has lost nearly 3 trillion tons of ice, equating to just under 8 millimeters of sea level rise. Forty percent of that loss has occurred in just the last 5 years, again underscoring the increase in losses recently.

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