UK scientists say more than a third of the massive ice floes floating around Antarctica may be at risk of collapsing and releasing water. “In unimaginable quantities” into the sea, if the global temperature is 4 degrees Celsius higher than pre-industrial levels, UK scientists say.
Limiting a temperature rise to 2 degrees Celsius could halve the vulnerable area and avoid a sharp rise in sea level, researchers at the University of Reading said.
The findings, published in the journal Geophysical Research Letters, suggest that 4C warming could make 34% of the total Antarctic ice shelf more vulnerable to collapse.
The ice shelf is a permanent floating ice sheet connected to the ground. Most surround the Antarctic coast.
Ella Gilbert, a research scientist in the University of Reading̵7;s Meteorological Department, said: “Ice layers are an important buffer, preventing land glaciers from flowing freely into the ocean and resulting in water levels. Rising sea When they collapse, they are like giant corks removed from a bottle, causing unimaginable amounts of water from the glacier into the sea.
“We know that when melting ice accumulates on the surface of the shelves, ice can cause them to break and crumble amazingly.
“Previous research has given us a broader picture in terms of predicting Antarctic ice decline. But our new study uses the latest modeling techniques to fill in the finer details and provide more accurate forecasts. ”
Gilbert said the team’s work underscores the importance of limiting global temperature rise, as set out in the Paris Climate Agreement, which promotes a global framework to avoid change. Dangerous Climate by limiting global warming to less than 2C above pre-industrial levels.
In their modeling studies, the researchers also determined that Larsen C, the largest remaining ice shelf on the peninsula, was particularly at risk in warm climates. Other ice racks facing this threat, they say, are Shackleton, Pine Island and Wilkins.
“If temperatures continue to rise at current rates, we could lose more Antarctic ice layers over the next few decades,” Gilbert said. But it’s only good for Antarctica. Keeping the ice shelf means less rise in global sea levels, and that’s good for all of us. ”