British climatologists have found that the ice sheet of West Antarctica will continue to melt rapidly and will begin to fall apart in the coming centuries, regardless of what measures humanity takes to combat climate change. This was reported by the British Antarctic Survey (BAS). The work was published Monday in Nature Climate Change.
“It appears that humanity has lost control over how the West Antarctic ice sheet will melt. If we wanted to preserve it in its original form, then we should have started combating climate change not now, but many decades ago. However, awareness of this The situation gives us several decades to prepare for rapid sea level rise in the future,” said ALS researcher Caitlin Naughten, quoted by the organization’s press service.
Naughten and her colleagues came to this conclusion by analyzing scenarios of how measures taken to combat global warming would affect the state of the ice masses covering western Antarctica. These glaciers, especially those covering the Antarctic Peninsula, are very vulnerable to the effects of global climate change.
For example, six years ago, one of the last fragments of the Larsen Glacier collapsed off its shores, which gave birth to a giant iceberg the size of the Moscow region. Incidents like these are forcing scientists to discuss the prospect of an imminent and irreversible collapse of the entire West Antarctic ice sheet. British climatologists have studied how the implementation of the Paris climate agreement, as well as other proposed measures to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, will affect this process.
Imminent collapse of West Antarctica’s glaciers
Climatologists have prepared a climate model that describes the state of the Amundsen Sea and the adjacent regions of West Antarctica. Using this model, scientists calculated how the region’s climate will change in the coming decades and centuries with full or partial implementation of the Paris Agreement, as well as maintaining the current level of greenhouse gas emissions.
Calculations have shown that the temperature in the Amundsen Sea will increase at triple the rate relative to other regions of the World Ocean throughout the 21st century, even with the full implementation of the Paris Agreement and with emissions reduced to zero. As a result, the sea glaciers that keep the West Antarctic ice sheet from collapsing will begin to melt en masse at the end of the century, eventually leading to its destruction.
In the worst-case scenario, water temperatures in the Amundsen Sea will rise by an additional 0.57 degrees Celsius. This will lead to the fact that coastal glaciers will begin to melt en masse already in the middle of the century. However, the nature of the destruction of the ice sheet will not fundamentally change.
The authors of the work emphasize that their results are not a reason to abandon measures to curb global warming. Reducing greenhouse gas emissions will protect Antarctica’s other glaciers from decay, thereby reducing the rate at which sea levels rise as a result of their melting.