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- Media outlets in 2019 and 2020 began claiming the Antarctic ice cap is melting six times faster than it was 30 years ago.
- Thirty years ago, Antarctica was barely losing ice mass, and this remains so. “Six times” almost no ice loss remains almost no ice loss.
- When recent ice loss measurements are compared to the full Antarctic ice cap, the loss is so small that it is barely detectable.
- Sea-levelmeasurements contradict claims that Antarctic ice loss threatens coastal flooding. NASA satellite instruments, with readings dating back to 1993, show global sea level rising at a pace of merely 1.2 inches per decade, which is not significantly different than sea-level rise since the mid-1800s.
Short Summary: NASA and subsequent media stories have said this about Greenland and Antarctic ice: “The two regions have lost 6.4 trillion tons of ice in three decades; unabated, this rate of melting could cause flooding that affects hundreds of millions of people by 2100.” However, that is far short of even 1 percent of Greenland and Antarctic ice mass. As shown in the graph to the right in Figure 1 below, the total ice loss each year is a nearly undetectable three ten-thousandths of one percent (0.0003 percent) of the Antarctic ice mass.
- “Greenland, Antarctica Melting Six Times Faster Than in the 1990s.” Source: NASA press release, accessed 03/28/20, https://www.nasa.gov/feature/jpl/greenland-antarctica-melting-six-times-faster-than-in-the-1990s
- “Ice loss in Antarctica and Greenland increased sixfold in the last 30 years.” Source: LiveScience.com, accessed March 3/28/20, https://www.livescience.com/antarctica-greenland-ice-shelf-loss.html
- NASA satellite instruments, with readings dating back to 1993, show global sea level rising at a pace of merely 1.2 inches per decade. “Sea Level Rise,” Climate at a Glance, accessed 4/2/20, https://climateataglance.com/climate-at-a-glance-sea-level-rise/
- The data plotted in the graphs above is from the ice sheet mass balance inter-comparison exercise (IMBIE), a joint exercise by NASA and the European Space Agency, http://imbie.org/about-the-project/