Antarctica’s Melting Ice Sheets Are Leading To Ominous Predictions

Antarctica’s Melting Ice Sheets Are Leading To Ominous Predictions

August 5th, 2017 / Burnham Arlidge

It’s been 9 years since the United Nations panel of scientists related to the world their studies of climate change that predicted that, if nothing was done in relation to greenhouse gas emissions, sea levels could rise worldwide over 2 feet by 2100.

More worryingly, in 2013, scientists upped their prediction to 3 feet. A rise of 3 feet worldwide would flood many major cities and increase the risk of storm surge.

However, throughout these predictions, the panel of scientists acknowledged that there were certain areas they were unsure about, particularly that of the ice sheets in Antarctica.

To help them, the panel invited outside scientists to conduct their own studies in the hope that they would contribute to their own research and fill in the gaps left by the panel.

Scientist rose to the challenge and have reveled far more ominous and alarming results than anyone ever expected.

One of the more notable studies, recently published in the journal Nature, painted the most bleak picture yet. The study in questions focused on the West Antarctica ice sheet, one of the largest and least studied ice sheets in the world.

The study demonstrated that if nothing was done to combat and reduce emissions, sea levels would rise by 6 feet or more by the end of the century. This prediction has obviously alarmed scientists who are well aware that a rise of 6 feet would submerge many nations and remake the map of the world.

Whilst the findings seem nothing short of utterly disturbing to the public and policymakers, coastal geologists seem less than surprised with the news.

Until recently, scientists believed that the Antarctic ice sheets would melt over thousands of years, however, the most recent studies are demonstrating that major sea level changes have occurred in the past within a lifetime.

Worst Case Scenario

If nothing is done, scientists now believe that the worst case scenario is that sea levels will rise by more than 13 meters by 2500. The image below demonstrates what this would do to Antarctica.

Map of Ice Sheets


Benjamin Horton, a coastal geologist at Rutgers University has stated that this new information is thanks to new Satellite and imagery technology that makes studying ice sheets far easier.

Horton said “These ice sheets have this double whammy, they’re heated at the surface from air temperature and they’re heated at the base from ocean temperatures. They retreat and then they become unstable and they retreat even further. They have all these feedback mechanisms that keep on making the situation worse.”

The Paris Agreement

Whilst the study pointed to doom and gloom, it also predicted that if global temperatures were to increase by less than 2 degrees by the end of the century, then the West Antarctica ice sheets would cause very little change in sea levels.

Thankfully, the agreement made in Paris in December is aimed at achieving this goal.

However, even if countries agree and stand by the Paris agreement on climate change, if temperatures do rise by as little as 2 degrees then sea levels are still predicted to rise over 5 meters by 2500.

“We have a choice right now,” Horton said. “If we strongly mitigate against greenhouse gases, we can keep the sea-level rise to a manageable level.

These papers are not all doom and gloom. They are providing a warning and we as a scientific community are trying to stress the urgency on climate change. This is a dire warning, a dire prediction, but we can do something about it.”

The post Antarctica’s Melting Ice Sheets Are Leading To Ominous Predictions appeared first on Antarctica Guide.


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Posted on Aug 05, 2017

About the Author Burnham Arlidge

Burnham started his career as a professional tennis player before retiring due to injury. Since then Burnham has thrown himself into adventure travel. He has visited some of the most iconic and obscure parts of the planet - his most memorable experience is Antarctica!

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