May 5 (UPI) – If world leaders and policymakers fail to find a way to cut emissions and limit warming to 2 degrees Celsius, the target set by the Paris Agreement, new models suggest that ice losses in Antarctica will cause a dramatic rise in sea level.
According to a study published Wednesday in the journal Nature, current trends in global warming have caused planet Earth to exceed the goals of the Paris Agreement by 2060.
If that happens, the researchers and their models predict that the destabilization of Antarctic ice sheets will ensure an unstoppable sea-level rise of between 17 and 21 centimeters by the end of the century.
To limit the damage caused by climate change, whether it be prolonged droughts or rising waters, scientists generally agree that world leaders should strive to limit warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels – the most ambitious goal set by the Paris Agreement.
However, climatologists believe that policymakers can also ensure a habitable planet by achieving a slightly less aggressive goal and limiting warming to 2 degrees.
But if world leaders can’t find a way to achieve one of the two goals of the Paris Agreement, the scientists said, all bets are off.
For the new study, a team led by researchers at the University of Massachusetts Amhurst examined the likely behavior of Antarctic ice under different warming scenarios.
According to the analysis, if global warming is limited to between 1.5 and 2 degrees, the most recent models of ice loss in Antarctica predict that the southern continent’s ice sheet would contribute between 6 and 11 centimeters to the rise in level. from the sea by 2100.
If global warming approaches 3 degrees above pre-industrial temperatures, models predict that loss of Antarctic ice will contribute 17 to 21 centimeters to sea level rise by the end of the century.
If current warming trends continue, Earth and the Antarctic ice sheet will reach the tipping point of an uncontrolled rise in sea level by 2060.
As significant amounts of ice cap destabilization accumulate as the climate warms, even moderate warming will ensure that Antarctica will continue to experience significant ice loss over the next several centuries.
The latest models suggest that further warming beyond the Paris Agreement targets will ensure seas rise more than 10 meters by 2300.
Conversely, models show that if policymakers can meet the goals of the Paris Agreement, long-term sea level rise can be limited to 1 meter.
Some studies have shown that the Antarctic ice sheet will continue to melt for the next 300 years, even if warming has slowed considerably. But if the warming continues, the melting and rising sea levels will accelerate more dramatically and faster, the researchers say.
Researchers suggest that the source of Antarctica’s vulnerabilities lies along the coast.
As the continent’s coastal glaciers shrink, they become increasingly vulnerable to warm water currents and less able to slow the descent of inland ice.
This pattern of accelerating ice loss has become particularly apparent in Greenland, where warming trends have been more pronounced.
“If the world continues to heat up, the enormous glaciers of Antarctica could start to behave like their smaller counterparts in Greenland, which would be disastrous in terms of sea level rise,” the first author studied. Rob DeConto, Co-Principal of the Amhurst Land School. and sustainability, said in a press release.
Recent studies have shown that melt rates in much of Greenland have accelerated dramatically over the past decades.
One study even showed that Greenland is now losing four times more ice each year than it was almost two decades ago.