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World’s Largest Ice Sheet Could Cause Massive Sea Rise Without Action: Study

The A-68 iceberg was one of the largest ever observed.

According to a British study published on Wednesday, the world’s largest ice sheet could cause “several meters” of sea level rise over the centuries if global temperatures rise more than 2°C.

Durham University researchers concluded that if global greenhouse gas emissions remain high, the melting East Antarctica Ice Sheet (EAIS) could cause nearly half a meter of sea level rise by 2100. Their analysis was published in the scientific journal Nature.

If emissions continue to be high, the EAIS could contribute about one to three meters to global sea levels by 2300 and two to five meters by 2500, they said.

However, if emissions were drastically reduced, EAIS could contribute to a sea level rise of about two centimeters by 2100, according to the assessment.

This would be much less than the expected ice loss from Greenland and West Antarctica.

“A key conclusion from our analysis is that the fate of the East Antarctic Ice Sheet remains in our hands,” said lead author Chris Stokes of Durham University’s Department of Geography.

“This ice sheet is by far the largest in the world, with the equivalent of 52 meters sea level and it is really important that we do not wake this sleeping giant.

“Limiting global temperature rise below the 2°C limit set in the Paris climate agreement should mean avoiding worst-case scenarios, or perhaps even halting the melting of the East Antarctic ice sheet, and therefore its impact on the global sea level are rising,” he added.

Computer simulations

The study did note that the worst-case scenarios projected were “highly unlikely.”

World leaders agreed at the 2015 UN Climate Change Conference in Paris to limit global warming to well below 2°C and work to limit the increase to 1.5°C.

The research team, made up of scientists from the UK, Australia, France and the US, analyzed how the ice sheet reacted to past warm spells when making their predictions.

They ran computer simulations to model the effects of different greenhouse gas emission levels and temperatures on the ice sheet by the years 2100, 2300 and 2500.

They found evidence that three million years ago, when temperatures were about 2-4°C higher than today, part of the EAIS “collapsed and contributed several meters to sea level rise.”

“Even as recently as 400,000 years ago – not so long ago on geological timescales – there is evidence that part of the EAIS retreated 700km inland in response to just 1-2 °C of global warming,” she added. up.

Nerlie Abram, a co-author of the study from the Australian National University in Canberra, warned that the blade “isn’t as stable and protected as we once thought.”

The fate of the world’s largest ice sheet is in our hands, scientists say

More information:
Chris Stokes, Response of the East Antarctic Ice Sheet to Past and Future Climate Change, Nature (2022). DOI: 10.1038/s41586-022-04946-0. www.nature.com/articles/s41586-022-04946-0

© 2022 AFP

Quote: World’s largest ice sheet could cause massive sea rise without action: study (2022, Aug. 13) retrieved Aug. 13, 2022 from https://phys.org/news/2022-08-world-biggest-ice-sheet-massive. html

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