A NASA study, led by Glaciologist Jay Zwally, reveals that while the Antarctic Peninsula and parts of the West Antarctic continue to lose ice, the eastern side of the continent and interior of West Antarctica have recorded significant ice gains. Their conclusion is based on new measurement methods that examine the height of the region’s ice sheet via satellites. “The good news is that Antarctica is not currently contributing to sea level rise, but is taking 0.23 millimeters per year away,” Zwally said. “But this is also bad news. If the 0.27 millimeters per year of sea level rise attributed to Antarctica in the IPCC report is not really coming from Antarctica, there must be some other contribution to sea level rise that is not accounted for.”
Ice loss in Antarctica is generally believed to be reason for the rise in global sea levels, as evidenced by the recent high tides in major coastal cities such as Miami. Should Zwally’s study be proven correct however, it would mean that Antarctica—believed to add around 8% to global sea rise—is not contributing as much to the increasing sea levels as scientists originally thought. This implies that scientists may be underestimating the impact of other possible sources, including melting from Greenland or the heating of the oceans.
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