Article image

Antarctic ice sheet collapse could raise sea levels by five meters

The Antarctic ice sheet could raise the sea level by more than five meters over the course of this millennium, according to a new study led by Hokkaido University. The researchers looked at the ice sheet’s past behavior to determine how it will evolve in the coming centuries based on the current rate of global warming.

Without modifications, large and densely populated coastal areas could ultimately become uninhabitable as a result of sea level rise. This means that it is extremely important for scientists to understand the connection between melting polar ice and sea level rise. 

The researchers used computer models to estimate the impact of global warming on the ice sheets of Antarctica and Greenland. The study provided input for the recently published Sixth Assessment Report (AR6) of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). 

According to the study authors, the Antarctic ice sheet is expected to contribute up to 30 centimeters of sea level rise by 2100. To look beyond this century, the team applied late 21st-century climate conditions to their models. 

Ultimately, the simulations revealed that by the year 3000, an unabated warming scenario would produce a sea-level equivalent (SLE) of 1.5 to 5.4 meters. The primary contributor was found to be the collapse of the West Antarctic ice sheet.

“This study demonstrates clearly that the impact of 21st-century climate change on the Antarctic ice sheet extends well beyond the 21st century itself, and the most severe consequences — multi-meter contribution to sea-level rise — will likely only be seen later,” said study lead author Dr. Christopher Chambers of Hokkaido University’s Institute of Low Temperature Science. 

“Future work will include basing simulations on more realistic future climate scenarios, as well as using other ice-sheet models to model the outcomes.”

The study is published in the Journal of Glaciology.

By Chrissy Sexton, Staff Writer

News coming your way
The biggest news about our planet delivered to you each day