Glaciers and ice sheets in Antarctica have thinned and weakened dramatically over the past quarter-century, leaving 24% of the ice in the western part of the continent seriously weakened and in danger of collapse.

In some places on Antarctica, glaciers have thinned by approximately 400 feet (122 meters). This staggering loss has little to do with weather fluctuations; rather, it unfolded over decades as Earth’s climate warmed, scientists reported in a new study.

And that ice loss is accelerating. The researchers found that West Antarctica’s two biggest glaciers — Thwaites and Pine Island — are melting away five times faster now than they were at the beginning of the survey, in 1992. [Antarctica: The Ice-Covered Bottom of the World (Photos)]

To determine these ice changes, the scientists examined regional climate models and satellite data spanning 25 years, they reported May 16 in the journal Geophysical Research Letters.

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