The clock is ticking to save East Antarctica from climate change

The worst effects of global warming on the world’s largest ice cap could be avoided if the world’s countries manage to meet the climate goals set out in the Paris Agreement .

It is the call of an international team of climatologists, including gurus from the Australian National University (ANU) and the Center Australian Excellence in Antarctic Science (ACEAS), which examined how much sea level could rise if climate change melted East Antarctica. Inlandsis (EAIS).

The team’s research, published in Mother Nature, suggests that by limiting global temperatures to well below two degrees Celsius above pre-industrial, the EAIS is projected to add less than half a meter to sea level rise by the year 2500. If the targets aren’t met, sea level rise from the EAIS alone could climb up to five meters in the same period.

If greenhouse gas emissions are drastically reduced and a marginal increase in global warming is recorded, the research team predicts that the EAIS – which contains the vast majority of Earth’s glacier ice – n unlikely to rise in sea level this century. But researchers say sea levels will continue to rise due to unstoppable ice losses from Greenland or West Antarctica.

Researchers warn that if countries fail to meet the goals of the Paris Climate Agreement, we risk waking up a “sleeping giant”.

“The EAIS is 10 times larger than West Antarctica and contains the equivalent of 52 meters of sea level”, said co-author Professor Nerilie Abram, of the ANU’s Earth Science Research School.

“If temperatures rise above two degrees Celsius beyond 2100, supported by high greenhouse gas emissions, then East Antarctica alone could contribute to the sea ​​level rise of about one to three meters from here 2300 and about two to five meters from here 2500.”

Professor Abram said our window of opportunity to protect the world’s largest ice cap from the impacts of climate change is rapidly closing.

“A key lesson from the past is that EAIS is very practical for even relatively modest warming scenarios. It is not as steady and secure as we once thought,” she said.

“Achieving and strengthening our commitments to of the Paris Agreement would not only protect the world’s largest ice sheet, but would also slow the melting of other large ice sheets such as Greenland and West Antarctica, which are more vulnerable to global warming.

Co-author Professor Matthew England, of the University of New South Wales (UNSW), said that the projected increase in sea level rise the sea from the EAIS would add to sea level rise caused by ocean thermal expansion and melting ice elsewhere..

“Already, satellite observations show signs of ice thinning and receding,” he said.

“Our models show that the rate of warming of oceans will only increase dramatically if we do not reduce greenhouse gas emissions.”

Study co-author Professor Matt King of the University of Tasmania (UTas), said the study highlights the amount of work needed to learn more about East Antarctica.

“We have a better understanding of the Moon than East Antarctica. We therefore do not yet fully understand the climate risks that will emerge from this area,” Professor King said. Earth’s past and analyzed projections made by existing studies to determine the impact of different levels of future greenhouse gas emissions on the ice sheet within years 2100, 2300 and 2500.

According According to the latest report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), released last year, human activity has already increased average global temperatures by around 1.1 degrees Celsius since pre-industrial times.

Professor Abram said that by limiting global warming to well below two degrees Celsius we can avoid the worst scenarios of global warming and even prevent major losses of energy. ‘EAIS.

“We used to think that East Antarctica was much less vulnerable to climate change than the ice sheets of West Antarctica or Greenland, but we now know that some areas of Antarctica eastern are already showing signs of ice loss,” she said.

“This means that the fate of the world’s largest ice cap remains in our hands. ”

This work was led by Durham University in the United Kingdom (UK) and is a collaboration between scientists from Australia, France, the United States United States and United Kingdom.

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