Fact Check: Dianne Feinstein claims Antarctica holds 90 percent of the world’s ice, and the rate of ice melting and calving increased six-fold from 1994 to 2012.

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On December 7, 2018 Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) joined Senator Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.) on the Senate floor to discuss climate change and the effect it is having on their respective states. Senator Feinstein made many different claims regarding climate change and its impacts on her state. For the purpose of this fact check we will look at this one claim.

Claim: “Antarctica holds 90 percent of the world’s ice, and the rate of ice melting and calving increased six-fold from 1994 to 2012.”

There are two claims within this statement. The first claim is that Antarctica holds 90% of the world’s ice, which is true according to NASA.

The second claim is that ice melting and calving has increased six-fold from 1994 to 2012. According to research done by Paolo et al. published in the Journal Science, ice melting has increased from “25 ± 64 cubic kilometers per year for 1994–2003 to rapid loss of 310 ± 74 cubic kilometers per year for 2003–2012.”  Dianne Feinstein claims that ice loss increased six-fold from 1994 to 2012, which is actually an underestimate. When calculating a fold increase you divide the starting number 25 cubic kilometers per year into the current number of 310 cubic kilometers per year and it reveals a twelve-fold increase in ice melting. According to a National Geographic article that examined this study, they quote Helen Fricker, one of the researchers as saying that her team has found that from “1994 to 2012, the amount of ice disappearing from all Antarctic ice shelves, not just the ones in the Amundsen Sea, increased 12-fold, from six cubic miles to 74 cubic miles per year.” While Dianne Feinstein is correct in that there has been at least a six-fold in ice melting, the actual number is much higher at twelve-fold. We were unable to find any study that showed a six-fold increase and are not sure where Dianne Feinstein came up with this number.

Conclusion: It is true that Antarctica holds 90% of the world’s ice and it is also true that Antarctica has shown at least a six-fold increase in ice loss, however this is an underestimate of the increase, therefore we rate this claim Mostly True. (D. Van Zandt)

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