Rising temperatures could spell disaster for Antarctica by disintegrating the Antarctic ice sheet and raising the sea levels, as scientists report in the journal Nature.
Scientists warn that if the Earth’s average surface temperature raises by yet another degree Celsius, the sea level would raise 2.5 metres from Antarctica alone, according to Science Alert. Such a thing could destroy coastal cities, forcing hundreds of millions of people to seek a new home – a task that could take hundreds, if no thousands of years.
Furthermore, the researchers behind the report warn that a disintegration of the Antarctic ice sheet would become larger and larger with each degree Celsius of warming. For instance, an extra three degrees Celsius raise would lift the sea level by 6.5 meters.
How does the sea level raise happen exactly? As warm sea water seeps under the glaciers, the glaciers start to break off and slide into the ocean. There, these glaciers sink to lower levels, where the air is warmer, and slowly begin to melt, as co-author Torsten Albrecht, researcher at the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research, explained.
Ever since the late 19th century, Earth’s average surface temperature has gone up by one degree Celsius. As a result, we are now suffering from powerful heatwaves, extreme droughts and strong tropical storms. If the surface temperature of the Earth continues to go up, we might have to redraw the map of the world as we know it.
“In the end, it is our burning of coal and oil that determines if and when critical temperature thresholds in Antarctica are crossed,” co-author Anders Levermann, a climate scientist at the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research, said in a statement. “And even if the ice loss happens on long time scales, the respective carbon dioxide levels can already be reached in the near future.”
Photo – Pixabay