Antarctica is melting at an alarming rate — and that rate continues to speed up.
The rate at which Antarctica is losing ice has tripled since 2007, according to a new report published this week in the journal Nature. The continent lost about 3 billion tons of ice between 1992 and 2017, and within that 25-year period, 40% of the loss occurred in just the past five years.
Scientists say those losses contributed to a 7.6 millimeter rise in mean sea level, and they estimate that by year 2070 sea levels could rise another half a meter from where they were in 2000. Such an increase in sea level could cause an estimated $1 trillion in damages to the U.S. alone, the study estimates.
To conduct the study, more than 80 scientists from 44 international organizations participated, using data taken from satellites, air and ground measurements and computer simulations.
Climate change’s impact on Antarctica made big news around this same time last year after a giant iceberg about the size of Delaware broke off from an ice shelf on the Antarctica Peninsula. That break permanently changed the shape of Antarctica and was the biggest break ever recorded.
Meanwhile, 2017 was the costliest year ever for natural disasters in the U.S., costing the country more than $306 billion in damages. Among the major climate-related disasters that the U.S. faced in 2017 was Hurricanes Harvey, Irma and Maria, the wildfires in California and tornadoes in southern Louisiana.