In a glaring exposure, the scientists have found that the vast ice sheets of East Antarctica could begin an irreversible slide into the sea due the rising temperatures and global warming.
The melting of ice sheets in East Antarctica may cause an unstoppable process of global coastal destruction, scientists cautioned. It is noteworthy, East Antarctica collectively holds enough water to raise global sea levels by 53m. The region has 10-times-greater volume of ice than West Antarctica.
The scientists said that a small part of the ice in the east lies at high altitude and is kept well below freezing point. However, its large proportion lies on bedrock that is below sea level, such as the Wilkes Basin. The ice sheet on the bedrock region is enough to raise sea levels by 19m, researchers said.
According to the scientists, East Antarctica is widely considered to be more stable than the West Antarctic as far as their ice sheet is considered.
During the study of the eastern ice sheets, researchers found that a large region of ice sheets are in danger of becoming irreversibly unstable once a relatively thin section of retaining ice on its coast is lost.
Lead author Matthias Mengel of the Potsdam Institute for Climate Research in Germany said, “The East Antarctic ice sheet has long been considered to be stable even under a warmer climate, in contrast to its West Antarctic counterpart. We have now shown that this may not be true.”
“This implies that the future sea-level contribution of the East Antarctic ice sheet may be significantly higher than previously estimated. This is important for the millions of people who live on the coasts. Every centimetre of sea level rise on top of what is already expected is going to be even more difficult to adapt to. By emitting more and more greenhouse gases we might trigger responses now that we may not be able to stop in the future,” he said.
The study is published in the journal Nature Climate Change.
With the help of computer modeling, scientists have found if the local temperatures around the East Antarctic rise, the ice sheet will continue to melt to a point when it will become irreversible.