Uncontrolled greenhouse gas emissions could lead to a rise of more than 15 inches in sea level, the scientists concluded, using data from NASA to issue a stern warning about the melting of ice sheets. The huge increase would lead to dramatic flooding in coastal regions around the world and create a potentially apocalyptic chain reaction of consequences.
The warming conditions on Earth have already been blamed for melting ice and rising sea levels. However, according to the Ice Sheet Model Intercomparison Project (ISMIP6), led by NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland, further disruption is still to be considered.
It has seen more than 60 specialists on ice, ocean and atmospheric research ̵
By 2100, they concluded, and if greenhouse gas emissions were reduced from current levels, the combined melting of the ice sheet could lead to an increase of more than 15 inches in global sea level. Meltwater from those ice sheets is believed to account for about a third of the total global sea level rise. Previous studies have suggested that even if we make changes now, sea levels will rise by about a quarter of an inch by 2100.
“One of the biggest uncertainties when it comes to how much sea level will rise in the future is how much the ice sheets will contribute,” Sophie Nowicki, now at the University of Buffalo, and formerly at NASA Goddard, and the study’s project leader, said. today. “And the contribution of the ice caps really depends on what the climate does.”
The challenge is that there is a double impact that causes the ice sheets at the north and south poles to shrink and release huge amounts of water in the process. On the one hand, air temperatures are rising, which melts the ice at the surface level. At the same time, ocean temperatures are also rising, causing glaciers to shrink and retreat. An August study predicted that unexpectedly precarious ice shelves in the Antarctic may be prone to peeling off, dramatically increasing the rate at which the ice melts.
This latest study looked at two possibilities. On the positive side, the team modeled a lower emissions scenario, in which carbon emissions were drastically reduced. This has however seen global sea level rise by about 1.3 inches.
The other model takes a more pessimistic view, in which emissions have risen with few attempts to control their production. There, they concluded, melting ice caps could add about 3.5 inches to the already rising oceans.
Adding further complexity is the fact that changes and merger rates are inconsistent across all areas. Some regions are more sensitive to warmer oceans and differences in currents: the Amundsen Sea sector in West Antarctica and Wilkes Land in East Antarctica, for example, are cited as the most vulnerable to changes in the simulations.
“With these new findings, we can focus our efforts in the right direction and know what we need to work on to continue improving the projections,” Hélène Seroussi, ice scientist at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Southern California, and head of ‘Antarctica modeling of the ice cap explains.