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July 11, 2019 03:30 am

Glacial Melting In Antarctica May Become Irreversible, NASA-Funded Study Suggests

An anonymous reader quotes a report from The Guardian: A Nasa-funded study found instability in the Thwaites glacier meant there would probably come a point when it was impossible to stop it flowing into the sea and triggering a 50cm sea level rise. Other Antarctic glaciers were likely to be similarly unstable. The Thwaites glacier, part of the West Antarctic ice sheet, is believed to pose the greatest risk for rapid future sea level rise. Research recently published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences journal found it was likely to succumb to instability linked to the retreat of its grounding line on the seabed that would lead to it shedding ice faster than previously expected. The researchers found a precise estimate of how much ice the glacier would shed in the next 50 to 800 years was not possible due to unpredictable climate fluctuations and data limitations. However, 500 simulations of different scenarios pointed to it losing stability. This increased uncertainty about future sea level rise but made the worst-case scenarios more likely. A complete loss of the West Antarctic ice sheet would be expected to increase global sea levels by about five meters (16ft), causing coastal cities around the world to become submerged.

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