>> Rising sea levels could be worse than previously thought. That's according to scientists who believe Antarctica's annual ice losses have accelerated six-fold in the past 40 years. It's a trend that could push sea levels meters higher in coming centuries amid man-made global warming. According to the proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, the East Antarctic ice sheet is also thawing at the fringes.
That's contrary to many past reports which concluded that the Eastern sheet has so far resisted a melt seen on the Western side. Reuters Alister Doyle explains.>> Some scientists say that Antarctica is a little bit like a bottle on its side. If you take out the cork, which is the ice at the edge of the ice sheets, that could allow the ice inland to flow much more quickly into the sea.
Like if you take a bottle of wine on its side, and you pull out the cork, the whole lot will flow out. And that's the big fear here, that by taking away the bits around the edge, it's kind of buffering the ice inland, and that will lead to far, far quicker rates of sea level rise, as this study says, perhaps meters in coming centuries.
>> Ice losses from the frozen continent surged to a net 252 billion tons a year in the period 2009 to 17. That's up significantly from an average 40 billion tons from 1979 to 90. This new discovery in the east is causing even more concern for climate change experts.
>> This is just adding a new alarm bell to what is already happening. The coasts are a little bit more eroded, ports and cities on the coast are more vulnerable to being flooded. And in big cities, of course, if you flood inside a big city like New York or London, it would flood infrastructure such as metros, subways, tubes.
That could cause billions of dollars of damage.>> While East Antarctica is hard to reach, it's becoming an emerging area of scientific studies. The whole of Antarctica contains enough ice to raise global sea levels by 57 meters if it ever all melted. However, that's a process that would require far higher temperatures than now, and thousands of years.