'Modest' global warming could trigger the 'awakening' of East Antarctica's 'sleeping giant': study
A new report is detailing how the greater impact of global warming could be properly mitigated if nations across the world can collectively work together to meet the Paris Agreement climate bullet points.
According to Eurekalert, Australian National University (ANU) and the Australian Centre for Excellence in Antarctic Science (ACEAS) have collectively worked to outline the necessary mitigation requirements.
The groups of scientists have reportedly examined "how much sea levels could rise if climate change melts the East Antarctic Ice Sheet (EAIS)."
The scientific team's findings were published in the journal Nature and suggest that "by limiting global temperatures to well below two degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels, the EAIS is predicted to add less than half a metre to sea-level rise by the year 2500. If the targets aren’t met, sea-level rise from the EAIS alone could climb up to five metres in the same time period."
Researchers also warned of the cataclysmic scenarios the world could face if industrialized countries fail to meet the climate targets outlined as part of the Paris Agreement. In short, the world faces the possibility of "awakening a 'sleeping giant.'"
“The EAIS is 10 times larger than West Antarctica and contains the equivalent of 52 metres of sea level,” co-author Professor Nerilie Abram, from the ANU Research School of Earth Sciences, said.
“If temperatures rise above two degrees Celsius beyond 2100, sustained by high greenhouse gas emissions, then East Antarctica alone could contribute around one to three metres to rising sea levels by 2300 and around two to five metres by 2500.”
Abram also warned that the window of opportunity is closing relatively quickly. “A key lesson from the past is that the EAIS is highly sensitive to even relatively modest warming scenarios. It isn’t as stable and protected as we once thought,” she said.
Professor Matt King from the University of Tasmania (UTas), who co-authored the study, also explained how the group's research lays out what needs to be done to obtain more information about East Antarctica.
“We understand the Moon better than East Antarctica. So, we don’t yet fully understand the climate risks that will emerge from this area,” Professor King said.
The latest concerns about Antarctica come as climate researchers predict the evolution of planet Earth over the course of the next three decades.
"In 2050, the world could look back and see the pandemic as little more than a blip in a long and mostly futile effort to stave off global warming. Despite a temporary drop in carbon emissions from the 2020 outbreak, countries turned to cheap fossil fuels to revive their economies after the crisis," Nature noted in 2020. "Carbon emissions soared and temperatures followed, setting the stage for 5°C of warming by the end of the century."
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