The West Antarctic Ice Sheet is melting, and it’s too late to stop it

The West Antarctic Ice Sheet is melting, and it’s too late to stop it
The West Antarctic Ice Sheet is melting, and it’s too late to stop it

Seasonal differences of the ocean ice extent in Antarctica.

It is not wanting good for the West Antarctic Ice Sheet. This physique of ice is Antarctica’s largest contributor to international sea-level rise, and it’s solely going to worsen from right here. After working a number of simulations, researchers decided that elevated melting of the sheet shall be unavoidable all through the remainder of the century.

Scientists beforehand hypothesized {that a} discount in greenhouse gas emissions may mitigate the warming of the Amundsen Sea, which contributes to melting of the West Antarctic Ice Sheet.

That speculation has now been put to the check.

Associated: Antarctic sea ice hits record low, satellites reveal

Utilizing the UK’s nationwide supercomputer, researchers have developed 4 future melting projections utilizing anticipated global temperature rise information primarily based on mid-range and best-case emission eventualities — and not one of the instances are good ones. Even within the staff’s best-case projection that meets formidable Paris Accord targets, the West Antarctic Ice Sheet  nonetheless melts thrice quicker within the twenty first century than it did within the twentieth.

“It appears like we’ve misplaced management of melting of the West Antarctic Ice Sheet. If we wished to protect it in its historic state, we might have wanted motion on local weather change a long time in the past,” Dr. Kaitlin Naughten, a British Antarctic Survey researcher, mentioned in a statement.

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Satellites show Antarctic ice shelves have lost 74 trillion tons of water in 25 years
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The ozone hole above Antarctica has grown to three times the size of Brazil

As a substitute, the floating ice cabinets that buttress the West Antarctic Ice Sheet will weaken over the approaching a long time, accelerating the stream of upstream glaciers towards the ocean, the place they may finally break off into icebergs and soften.

“The shiny aspect is that by recognizing this example prematurely, the world can have extra time to adapt to the ocean stage rise that’s coming,” mentioned Naughten. “In case you want to abandon or considerably re-engineer a coastal area, having 50 years lead time is going to make all of the distinction.”

On a extra constructive word, the melting is projected to sluggish on the finish of the twenty first century — however we might want to take motion instantly to obtain that future. “We should not stop working to scale back our dependence on fossil fuels,” mentioned Naughten. “What we do now will assist to sluggish the speed of sea stage rise in the long run.

The staff’s analysis was revealed within the journal Nature Climate Change on Oct. 23.

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