It can no longer be stopped
UK research team overturns previous predictions
- 미디어1 (email@example.com)
- Oct 24 2023 12:05 PM
"No matter how much carbon emissions are reduced, the West Antarctic Ice Sheet will melt in the 21st century."
No matter how much carbon emissions are reduced, a recent study has concluded that the melting of the West Antarctic Ice Sheet, and similar large ice shelves (massive ice chunks connected to the continent's ice), can no longer be prevented. These large ice shelves play a crucial role in preventing land ice from melting and flowing into the sea, potentially leading to a rapid rise in sea levels within this century.
▲ Icebergs flowing into the sea in one of Antarctica's oceans are melting rapidly. Screenshot from the British Antarctic Survey (BAS) website.
According to reports from The New York Times and others on the 23rd (local time), Dr. Caitlin Noton and her research team at the British Antarctic Survey (BAS) published a paper detailing the impact of global warming on a specific region and its future prospects, using high-resolution computer models installed in the Amundsen Sea in Antarctica. The study's conclusion is that a substantial part of the West Antarctic Ice Sheet will melt in the 21st century, regardless of the rate at which fossil fuel usage is reduced, contradicting previous predictions that it would slowly melt over centuries.
In particular, the research team stated that even if global average temperatures are kept below 1.5 degrees Celsius compared to pre-industrial levels, as targeted in the Paris Agreement on climate change, the rate of ice sheet melting will be three times faster than in the 20th century. This means that the loss of ice shelves is now inevitable, even as carbon emissions decrease. The research paper was published in the scientific journal "Nature Climate Change."
Ice shelves act as a protective barrier for Antarctica, preventing land ice from flowing into the sea. As the West Antarctic Ice Sheet melts, land ice that has already flowed into the sea is also melting due to higher sea temperatures. Additionally, due to the enormous mass of the West Antarctic Ice Sheet, its complete melting would result in a sea level rise of approximately 5.3 meters globally.
Dr. Norton, who led this research, expressed concern, saying, "We may not be able to control the melting of the West Antarctic Ice Sheet in the 21st century," and some coastal communities may need to find ways to adapt to rising sea levels or relocate. The Guardian explained that since one-third of the world's population lives within 100 kilometers of the coast, they are within the impact zone of rising sea levels.
However, this does not mean that greenhouse gas reduction efforts are meaningless. The East Antarctic Ice Sheet, which is relatively less affected by climate change, contains about ten times more ice than the West Antarctic Ice Sheet. Alberto Galavato, a marine scientist and professor at the University of Southampton, emphasized that starting now with carbon emission reduction efforts can help preserve the rest of Antarctica.
Dr. Norton also urged, "The inevitability of sea level rise should not be a reason to give up on climate action," and she stressed that hope should not be abandoned for slowing down the rate of Antarctic ice melting beyond the 22nd century.
By Lee Yoo-jin, Reporter