Eastern Antarctic ice melt could lead to sea level rise of up to four metres
Sunday, May 11, 2014, 9:00 AM -
A new study on Antarctica's ice sheet is out, and there's good news and bad news for sea level rise.
The bad news is, scientists have identified a part of the eastern Antarctic ice sheet that, if it were to melt, it would spark a chain reaction that could see much of that basin discharge, with global sea levels rising up to four metres.
The good news? The chance of that actually happening is minimal, at least over the next century.
"East Antarctica may become a large contributor to future sea-level rise on timescales beyond a century," the report's authors write in the peer-reviewed journal Nature Climate Change.
These 'plugs' in eastern Antarctica are holding back an enormous amount of potential meltwater, mostly in the Wilkes Basin ice shelf.
Eastern Antarctica has enough ice to raise global sea levels by 53 m if it all melted, although even most worst-case scenarios discount such a drastic melt.
Still, the extent of ice loss in Antarctica is not as studied, with scientists still not sure how much climate change is affecting the region.