Antarctica’s Ice Sheet to Disappear Due to Global Warming, Says Study

Researchers have simulated a futuristic scenario of Antarctica due to global warming to provide a gloomy picture of how the ice-sheet would disappear and the bare deserted land would stare at the mankind.

In their study published in the journal Nature, Victoria University’s Antarctic Research Centre and GNS Science researchers provided their simulated findings to predict how the Antarctic ice sheet would respond to a range of greenhouse gas emission scenarios.

Once the ice sheet disappears, it would be incredibly hard to undo the damage, warn researchers. "The long reaction time of the Antarctic ice-sheet – which can take thousands of years to fully manifest its response to changes in environmental conditions – coupled with the fact that CO2 lingers in the atmosphere for a very long time means that the warming we generate now will affect the ice-sheet in ways that will be incredibly hard to undo," Dr Nicholas Golledge of ARC said.

The only positive scenario in which global warming and rise in sea level will not happen would be the reversal of CO2 emission levels by 2020, they pointed out.

The study also sets aside the Fifth Assessment Report of the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) that predicted that the Antarctic ice sheet would contribute only 5-cm to global sea-level rise by the end of 2100. But the study by Victoria University team simulations now show that it could be more due to an early disappearance of the ice sheet on Antarctica.

"Around 93% of the heat from anthropogenic global warming has gone into the ocean, and these warming ocean waters are now coming into contact with the floating margins of the Antarctic ice sheet, known as ice shelves," said Dr Golledge. If these ice shelves are lost, the contribution of the Antarctic to sea level rise by 2100 will be anywhere around 40-cm and not merely 5-cm, he warned.

Unless the Paris Conference addresses the issue and brings consensus on achieving reduction of greenhouse gas emissions by 30% from 2005 levels and 11% from the 1990 levels by 2030, it would pose a serious challenge to global warming. Since 10% of the world population lives on sea coast, any rise in water levels would lead to global havoc, he said.

Icr core image by GNS, Victoria University.

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