Global sea levels on the rise
According to a new analysis of climate change in Antarctica, global sea levels could rise by more than double the current best estimate.
By the end of this century, Antarctic melting alone could contribute more than a metre to sea level, the modelling assessment says.
According to the study, by 2500, the same source could cause levels across the world to rise by a whopping 13 metres.
The authors say that if we quickly cut our carbon emissions, we could limit this devastating risk.
Climate scientists at two US universities said the most recent UN report on the effects of global warming had underestimated the rate at which the ice covering the continent would melt.
Issued in 2013, the report said the worst case of man-made climate change would mean a sea-level rise of between 52cm and 98cm by 2100.
The new study suggests the rise could be 1.5 meters (5 feet), posing an even greater threat to cities from Shanghai to New York.
In a statement of the findings published in the top scientific journal Nature, lead author Robert Deconto at the University of Massachusetts said: “This could spell disaster for many low-lying cities.”
One of the factors that has was underestimated in the UN reports, which forsee most Antarctic ice remaining in a frozen state, is a process known as ‘hydro fracturing’ whereby pools of meltwater on ice shelves trickle deep into the ice, refreeze and force vast chunks of ice to crack off – meaning that ice on land in Antarctica will slide faster into the sea.
On Monday, it was announced by Scientists at the National Snow and Ice Data Centre that the Arctic ice cap had been reduced to its smallest winter area since records began in 1979.
By the middle of the next century, seas could be rising at a rate of more than 1 foot per decade if the emission of greenhouse gases continues at ‘business as usual’ levels and recent temperatures continue to shatter records.