The pace of melting rose dramatically over the four-decade period.
"We are on a path for rapid sea level rise in the coming one century or so" says lead author Eric Rignot. The period to which the study relates, was the longest on the ice of the Antarctic.
"[But] the places undergoing changes in Antarctica are not limited to just a couple places".
The findings are the latest sign that the world could face catastrophic consequences if climate change continues unabated.
More droughts, heat waves, severe storms and the rising sea level could bring unsafe weather and threaten wildlife systems and communities around the world, the article said.
"All of these data suggest we need to get cracking and reduce our greenhouse gas emissions", says Levy, noting that 2017 and 2018 saw reduced Antarctic sea ice after several decades of growth.
Maps show the projected impact of different levels of sea level rise on Miami, Florida. The glaciers themselves, as well as the ice shelves, can be as large as American states or entire countries.
Antarctica contains enough ice to raise global sea levels by 57 metres if it ever all melted, a process that would require far higher temperatures than now and thousands of years. When that happens, seas rise. The ice shelves act as an ocean-facing, protective barrier, keeping land-ice locked in place.
Global warming is melting ice in Antarctica faster than ever before - about six times more per year now than 40 years ago - leading to increasingly high sea levels worldwide, scientists have warned.
That's what the new research says is happening.
The western edge of the famed iceberg A-68, calved from the Larsen C ice shelf, is seen from NASA's Operation IceBridge research aircraft, near the coast of the Antarctic Peninsula region, on October 31, 2017, above Antarctica.
"What has become apparent through this work and other studies is that the Antarctic Ice Sheet isn't just sitting there".
"Ice-sheet models link Pine Island glacier absence to full WAIS collapse into ice caps on mountains", the study's abstract read.
From 1979 to 1989, Antarctic glaciers saw some 40 billion tons of ice melt each year.
The recent melting rate is 15 per cent higher than what a study found a year ago. Between 2009 and 2017, Antarctica lost roughly 252 gigatons of ice annually. And it remains alarmingly vulnerable.
"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", said Rignot. The expert for earth system research, who was not involved in the study, considers the investigation for the to date most comprehensive assessment of the mass changes of the Antarctic ice sheet with the help of the researchers methodology.
"This study adds to our knowledge of the history of the behaviour of Antarctica's ice sheets and is yet more proof that urgent action is needed on emissions".