WASHINGTON, Jan. 14 (UPI) -- Vast ice sheets in Antarctica appear to be destabilizing due to climate change and the rate of ice loss has accelerated in the past 10 years, researchers said.
The ice sheets in western Antarctica had seemed to be relatively protected from global warming, researchers said, and the new findings suggest the possibility that sea levels will rise faster than currently estimated, The Washington Post reported.
The overall loss is a small part of the ice in Antarctica, researchers said, but the continent has about 90 percent of Earth's ice, and large-scale loss of ice in Antarctica had been limited in the past to the peninsula that juts out toward South America, the newspaper said.
Eric Rignot -- a senior scientist with NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory and lead author of the paper published online in the journal Nature Geoscience -- said Antarctica is losing ice annually, and losing it at an accelerating rate, even though land temperatures are holding steady except on the peninsula, which is warming at a rapid rate.
"Something must be changing the ocean to trigger such changes," said Rignot. "We believe it is related to global climate forcing."