ANTARCTICA - OCTOBER 27: Ice floats near the coast of West Antarctica viewed from a window of a NASA Operation IceBridge airplane. NASA’s Operation IceBridge has been studying how polar ice has evolved over the past eight years. Researchers have used the IceBridge data to observe that the West Antarctic Ice Sheet may be in a state of irreversible decline directly contributing to rising sea levels. NASA and University of California, Irvine (UCI) researchers have recently detected the speediest ongoing Western Antarctica glacial retreat rates ever observed. Photos by Getty Images staff photographer Mario Tama.