Between 1979 and 1990, Antarctica lost 40 billion metric tons of ice per year, a figure that rose six times to 252 billion metric tons per year between 2009 and 2017.
Another Antarctic study published Monday in the scientific journal Nature Geoscience compared the geologic record of Antarctica's ice with the known astronomical motions of the planet and the wobbling of the Earth's tilt.
That study found the massive basin would start melting again, with a sustained temperature rise of just two degrees Celsius (3.6 Fahrenheit), the cap called for in the landmark Paris climate deal to avert runaway global warming.
The new research is consistent in some ways with a major study published previous year by a team of 80 scientists finding that Antarctic ice losses have tripled in a decade and now total 219 billion tons annually. Denman alone has lost 200 billion tons of ice, according to the study.
However, while snowfall has remained roughly constant over this period, researchers found, the increased melting resulted in that roughly half an inch of global sea level rise. The rate jumped 280 percent to 134 gigatons for 2001 to 2017. During this period, global sea levels rose by nearly 13 millimeters (half an inch) and might continue to rise at a higher rate than previously estimated. Researchers believe the accelerated melt could cause sea levels to rise at a quicker rate than predicted in coming years.
Antarctica's ice is melting six times faster than in the 1980s, a new study has found.
Levy and Meyers found that sea ice, or the thin frozen layer of ocean water that surrounds Antarctica, plays a critical role in protecting the miles-deep ice on the continent from the warmer ocean that surrounds it. From 1979 to 2001, it was an average of 48 gigatonnes annually per decade.
The bottom line is that Antarctica is losing a lot of ice and that vulnerable areas exist across the East and West Antarctic, with few signs of slowing as oceans grow warmer.
"This region is probably more sensitive to climate [change] than has traditionally been assumed", Rignot said in a statement.
"Sea ice creates a barrier between the ocean and the ice".
Co-authors of this study are Jeremie Mouginot, UCI associate researcher in Earth system science; Bernd Scheuchl, UCI associate project scientist in Earth system science; Mathieu Morlighem, UCI associate professor of Earth system science; and Michiel van den Broeke and Jan M. "Melchior" van Wessem of the Netherlands' Utrecht University.
Eric Rignot, the lead author on the study, said the loss of ice in East Antarctica, an area that had been relatively stable, is exceptionally troubling.
"As climate warming and ozone depletion send more ocean heat toward those sectors, they will continue to contribute to sea level rise from Antarctica in decades to come", Rignot added.
The pacing of the most recent ice ages, for example, is attributable to changes in the shape of our planet's orbit around the sun as well as to cyclic changes in the tilt of the Earth on its axis and its "top-like" wobble on that axis, all of which combine to influence the distribution and intensity of solar radiation.