Antarctica’s time ‘running out’
Time is rapidly running out to save Antarctica and the rest of the world from the catastrophic runaway effects of climate change, scientists have warned.
Vital decisions in the next 10 years will determine the fate of the continent and whether or not a surge in sea levels swamps coastal cities, new research suggests. If not enough is done to curb greenhouse gas emissions, changes to the Antarctic environment will result in global sea levels rising by more than a metre (3.3ft) by 2070.
Eventually the unstoppable forces unleashed would see the collapse of the entire West Antarctic Ice Sheet and an overwhelming 3.5metre (11.5ft) rise in sea levels, the study predicts.
In contrast, a significant cut in emissions would protect the vulnerable ice sheets and avert the threat of major sea level rises.
The international team, including UK experts from Imperial College London, predicted the likely outcome will be one of two far-reaching scenarios.
Under the first, greenhouse gas emissions continue unabated, causing global temperatures to soar to almost 5C above their level in 1850.
The second would see governments rally to cut emissions and keep global warming to below 2C. Sea levels would then only rise by around half a metre due to effects that have been irreversible since 2010.