Rising carbon emissions putting Antarctic ice sheet under threat

Antarctica

Antarctica

The East Antarctic Ice Sheet is the world's largest, containing roughly half of Earth's freshwater.

And the pace of melting is expected to lead to disastrous sea level rise in the years to come, according to lead author Eric Rignot, chair of Earth system science at the University of California, Irvine.

Global warming is melting ice in Antarctica faster than ever before - about six times more per year now than 40 years ago - leading to increasingly high sea levels worldwide, scientists have warned.

But unlike other historical periods when the earth was at a steep tilt, this time rising carbon dioxide levels are posing an even greater threat.

This 2016 photo provided by NASA shows the Getz Ice Shelf.

The total amount of ice in the Antarctic, if it all melted, would be enough to raise sea level 187 feet (57 meters). Scientists say the ice sheet in the Antarctic is "highly sensitive" to changes in climate.

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But human activity had resulted in levels now going beyond that, putting sea ice at risk if emissions were not kept in check.

"This study adds to our knowledge of the history and behaviour of Antarctica's ice sheets and is yet more proof that urgent action is needed on emissions", said co-author Professor Tim Naish, of Victoria University's Antarctic Research Centre. "We can not afford to lose it", Mr Naish said.

The earth took about 40,000 years to complete a cycle from a high tilt to a less unsafe lower one, Levy said.

"As the Antarctic ice sheet continues to melt away, we expect multi-metre sea level rise from Antarctica in the coming centuries" with continued man-made global warming, he wrote in a statement.

"In order for us to really ensure that we don't lose too much ice, we really need to work hard at getting those emissions - at least keeping them at what they are today but even trying to get them lower than they are today, we certainly can't let them get higher because all the evidence suggests that's just not good for the ice sheets".

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