Millions of people living in coastal cities around the world could be threatened with flooding as the pace of melting is expected to lead to disastrous sea level rise in the years to come, a study has claimed.
"As the Antarctic ice sheet continues to melt away, we expect multi-metre sea level rise from Antarctica in the coming centuries," study lead Eric Rignot, chair of Earth system science at the University of California, said.
Using data gathered from satellite radar and high-resolution aerial photographs, researchers discovered that from 1979 to 1990, Antarctica lost around 36 billion tonnes of ice mass every year.
By the years 2009 to 2017, the pace of the ice loss had increased by six times, to 228 billion tonnes per year.
As a result of the increase, global sea levels rose by more than 1.4cm (half an inch) between 1979 and 2017.
Even areas previously thought "stable and immune to change" in East Antarctica, are shedding quite a lot of ice, too, scientists found as oceans continue to heat up at record rates.
"The Wilkes Land sector of East Antarctica has, overall, always been an important participant in the mass loss, even as far back as the 1980s, as our research has shown," Mr Rignot said.
"This region is probably more sensitive to climate than has traditionally been assumed, and that's important to know, because it holds even more ice than West Antarctica and the Antarctic Peninsula together," he added.
Warming ocean water will only speed up ice loss in the future, Mr Rignot said.
The report, following the longest-ever assessment of ice mass in the Antarctic, was published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS).