Antarctica’s dormant giant ice shelf could swamp the world Here’s how to stop it

Are you a fan of the 1995 film? Water world with Kevin Costner? Great news: there is a definite possibility that if humanity fails to come together to prevent climate catastrophe, it will become a reality in the future!

In a new paper published in the journal Aug. 10 Nature, A team of Australian scientists found that sea levels could rise by a staggering five meters by the year 2500 if we don’t meet the goals set out in the Paris Climate Agreement. Specifically, the ice melt would come from the East Antarctic Ice Sheet (EAIS), one of two massive ice sheets on the southernmost continent that scientists have ominously dubbed the “sleeping giant” for its potential to wreak havoc with sea level rise.

The goal of the Paris Agreement is to limit global temperature rise to two degrees Celsius or less (ideally 1.5 degrees Celsius). If it continues to rise, things could get very tricky very quickly.

“This leaves the fate of the world’s largest ice sheet entirely in our hands.”

— Nerilie Abram, Australian National University

“The EAIS is 10 times larger than West Antarctica and contains the equivalent of 52 meters (170.6 feet) of sea level,” Nerilie Abram, a geoscientist at Australia National University and co-author of the paper, said in a press release. In other words, the ice shelf has more than enough water to flood the world well into “water world” territory when it melts completely.

“If temperatures rise above 2 degrees Celsius after 2100, supported by high greenhouse gas emissions, East Antarctica alone could contribute about one to three meters (three to 10 feet) by 2300 and about two to five meters of sea level rise by 2500. ‘ Abram explained.

There is a glimmer of hope, however. If we manage to contain global warming and meet the goals of the Paris Agreement, the dormant giant ice shelf is expected to contribute less than half a meter to sea level rise by 2500. That’s not nothing, but certainly a lot less than the 16-foot increase that would spell disaster for coastal communities and ecosystems around the world.

An illustration shows regions of America that would be completely flooded if sea levels rose by five meters.


The Inflation Reduction Act, passed on August 7, is also likely to be the largest ever US investment in the fight against global warming. A $369 billion investment in clean energy aims to reduce US greenhouse gas emissions by 40 percent below 2005 levels by 2030. Emissions could be reduced by up to 50 percent by the end of the decade.

However, our schedule for this is shrinking faster than an ice cube under the summer sun. In fact, the compounding problems associated with climate change, including sea-level rise due to ice melt elsewhere and warming of ocean water, are exponentially increasing the likelihood that the EAIS will melt faster.

“We used to think that East Antarctica was much less vulnerable to climate change compared to the ice sheets in West Antarctica or Greenland, but we now know that there are some areas in East Antarctica that are already showing signs of ice loss,” Abram said. “It means the fate of the world’s largest ice sheet remains entirely in our hands.” Antarctica’s dormant giant ice shelf could swamp the world Here’s how to stop it


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