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West Antarctica warming twice as fast as previously thought, study says


An enormous iceberg (R) breaks off the Knox Coast in the Australian Antarctic Territory on January 11, 2008.


Torsten Blackwood

The temperature in West Antarctica has warmed by 4.4 degrees since 1958, twice what scientists had estimated, according to a new paper from the journal Nature Geoscience.

“The surprises keep coming,” said scientist Andrew J. Monaghan, who worked on the study. “When you see this type of warming, I think it’s alarming.”

That is actually about three times the rate of global warming across the planet, and therefore makes West Antarctica "one of the fastest-warming regions on earth," according to the New York Times.

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"There is clear evidence that the West Antarctic Ice Sheet is contributing to sea-level rise," the paper said. "In contrast to previous studies, we report statistically significant warming during austral summer, particularly in December–January, the peak of the melting season."

The New York Times called the findings "ominous" and said it showed that the huge ice sheet could be in danger of collapse in the future.