American and Dutch scientists found that yearly ice mass loss in Antarctica increased sixfold in the past 40 years.
The study published on Monday in the Proceedings1 of the National Academy of Sciences showed the accelerated melting elevated global sea levels more than 1.2 centimeters during 1979 to 2017.
It is the longest-ever assessment2 of Antarctic ice mass, covering 176 basins and surrounding islands.
The researchers compared snowfall accumulation in interior basins with ice discharge by glaciers3 at their grounding lines.
The melting rate increased drastically in the new century. It was an average of 48 gigatons annually4 per decade from 1979 to 2001, but the pace jumped 280 percent to 134 gigatons for 2001 to 2007, according to the study.
"As the Antarctic ice sheet continues to melt away, we expect multi-meter sea level rise from Antarctica in the coming centuries," said the paper's lead author Eric Rignot, professor of Earth system science at the University of California, Irvine.
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