Over a third of the Antarctic ice shelf is at high risk of collapsing as our planet keeps warming more and more.
In a recent study, scientists of the University of Reading discovered that, as climate change continues, if our planet’s global temperature rises to more than 4 degrees Celsius (7.2 degrees Fahrenheit) over pre-industrial levels, approximately 193,000 square miles (500,000 square kilometres) of the Antarctic Ice Shelves may collapse into the sea.
Ice shelves are permanent floating slabs of ice attached to the coastline, and the collapse of the shelves may significantly increase global sea levels, according to the researchers.
Ella Gilbert, the study’s lead author and research scientist of the University of Reading’s Department of Meteorology, stated:
“Ice shelves are important buffers preventing glaciers on land from flowing freely into the ocean and contributing to sea-level rise. When they collapse, it’s like a giant cork being removed from a bottle, allowing unimaginable amounts of water from glaciers to pour into the sea. Previous research has given us the bigger picture in terms of predicting Antarctic ice shelf decline. Still, our new study uses the latest modelling techniques to fill in the finer detail and provide more precise projections.”
Their research highlights the importance of decreasing global temperature increases as set out in the Paris Agreement if we genuinely want to avoid climate change’s worst outcomes, especially sea-level rise.
The Paris Agreement was signed in 2016. It is an international treaty that was signed in 2016, made within the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change.
Nations pledged to work together to keep the increase of global temperatures within 2 degrees C above pre-industrial levels.