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Sara Swann
By Sara Swann April 25, 2023

Yes, the Antarctic ice sheets are melting. Scientists say they’ve melted for decades.

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  • Multiple scientific studies have found that the Antarctic ice sheets have been melting for decades.

  • The two people who claimed that the ice sheets aren’t melting, Judith Curry and Don Easterbrook, are known for questioning or denying proven aspects of climate change.

For years, climate scientists have released studies warning about Antarctic ice melting because of human-caused climate change. But recent social media posts reject this evidence.

"The Antarctic ice cap is not melting," claimed an April 15 Instagram reel. The video shows a clip of climate change skeptics Judith Curry and Don Easterbrook discussing the Antarctic ice sheet. The clip originated from the 2016 documentary film "Climate Hustle," which features a host of speakers dismissing climate change concerns.

"Climate models predict that the Antarctic should be losing sea ice, and that’s the exact opposite of what’s happening," Curry claimed in the video. Easterbrook then said, "There’s not melting going on in the first place. It’s actually growing."

This post was flagged as part of Meta’s efforts to combat false news and misinformation on its News Feed. (Read more about our partnership with Meta, which owns Facebook and Instagram.)

An ice sheet is a mass of glacial land ice that extends more than 20,000 square miles. Earth has two ice sheets, one that covers most of Greenland and another that spans Antarctica. Together, the ice sheets contain more than 99% of the world’s freshwater ice.

To track changes in the ice sheets’ surface area, researchers weigh how much snow and rain accumulated on the surface against the amount of ice lost because of evaporation, runoff and melt. An ice sheet’s total mass balance factors in these surface area gains and losses, plus any ice lost from calving — when large chunks of ice break off — and thinning from contact with warm ocean waters.

Multiple scientific studies show that the ice sheets in Antarctica and Greenland have been losing mass for decades.

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A comprehensive report, released April 20, found that ice losses from Antarctica and Greenland increased sixfold over the past three decades. The report, conducted by an international collaborative of polar scientists, used 50 satellite surveys of Antarctica and Greenland to collect data and track changes in the ice sheets from 1992 to 2020.

The National Snow and Ice Data Center at the University of Colorado, Boulder reported in March that the Antarctic Peninsula has had "an intense melt season," which began in November 2022, with above-average melting through much of February.

NASA has been monitoring the Antarctic and Greenland ice sheets, too. Its reports show that both ice sheets have been losing mass for more than 20 years. Antarctic ice is melting at an average rate of 150 billion tons per year, according to NASA.

The two people who claim the ice caps aren’t melting are both known for questioning or denying proven aspects of climate change. 

Curry previously served as chairperson and professor at the Georgia Institute of Technology’s School of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences. She resigned from her position in 2017, citing the "craziness" of climate science.

Curry believes, along with the vast majority of climate scientists, that Earth is warming. But she has questioned the overwhelming evidence that humans are the primary cause of global warming and climate change.

Easterbrook, a geology professor at Western Washington University, purports that global warming ended years ago, which is not true. He is a regular speaker at the Heartland Institute’s International Conference on Climate Change, which has rejected the scientific consensus on climate change and downplayed the seriousness of its effects.

We rate the claim that the Antarctic ice cap is not melting Pants on Fire!

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Yes, the Antarctic ice sheets are melting. Scientists say they’ve melted for decades.

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