A study released by NASA scientists last week found that Antarctica has been gaining more ice than it has been losing, thereby contradicting research from the United Nation’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC).
In a paper published in the Journal of Glaciology on Friday, researchers from NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center, the University of Maryland in College Park, and the engineering firm Sigma Space Corporation offer a new analysis of satellite data that show a net gain of 112 billion tons of ice a year from 1992 to 2001 in the Antarctic ice sheet. That gain slowed to 82 billion tons of ice per year between 2003 and 2008.
IPCC and other organizations have produced contrary research concluding that Antartica is losing more ice than it is gaining. The U.N. panel has largely blamed ice sheets melting in Antartica and Greenland for the overall rise in sea level.
However, the study’s authors said that the amount of ice melt in Antarctica could become greater than the gains in a matter of decades.
"The good news is that Antarctica is not currently contributing to sea level rise, but is taking 0.23 millimeters per year away," NASA glaciologist Jay Zwally, the lead author on the study, said of the findings in a news release.
"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."