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Gravity data shows Antarctic ice sheet is melting much faster

Gravity data has revealed that Antarctic ice sheet is melting at a much faster rate. A team of researchers from Princeton University has found that the massive Antarctica ice sheet lost twice the amount of ice in its western portion than the ice accumulated in the eastern portion of Antarctica.

The ice sheet of Antarctica was "weighed" using gravitational satellite data and it was found by researchers that the ice sheet lost 92 billion tons of ice per year from 2003 to 2014. The findings of the study are reported in the journal Earth and Planetary Science Letters.

"All we have done is take the balance of the ice on Antarctica and found that it is melting - there is no doubt," said co-author Frederik Simons, a Princeton University associate professor of geosciences.

"But with the rapidly accelerating rates at which the ice is melting, and in the light of all the other, well-publicised lines of evidence, most scientists would be hard pressed to find mechanisms that do not include human-made climate change," Simons said.

The majority of the loss was recorded from West Antarctica, which is the smaller of the continent's two main regions and abuts the Antarctic Peninsula that winds up toward South America.

"We have a solution that is very solid, very detailed and unambiguous. A decade of gravity analysis alone cannot force you to take a position on this ice loss being due to anthropogenic global warming," Simmons noted.

The study showed that the melting of ice from West Antarctica is happening at a far greater rate than was previously known and that the melting of western ice is much more unstable compared to other regions of the continent, said first author Christopher Harig, a Princeton postdoctoral research associate in geosciences.