A new report suggests rapid Arctic ice melt is inevitable in this century. Scientists said no matter the climate initiatives taken to cut carbon, their analysis shows the rate at which the melting of ice shelves floating in the Amundsen Sea in west Antarctica is three times faster in this century than the 20th century.
The study used a high-resolution computer model of the Amundsen Sea and found there were increased rates of melting in the 21st century that were happening no matter the scenarios for cutting fossil fuels including the Paris Agreement’s target to keep global warming below 1.5C above pre-industrial levels.
“Our study is not great news—we may have lost control of west Antarctic ice shelf melting over the 21st century,” Kaitlin Naughten, ocean modeler and researcher who led the study at the British Antarctic Survey, said. “It is one impact of climate change that we are probably just going to have to adapt to, and very likely this means some coastal communities will either have to build [defenses] or be abandoned.”
The study confirmed that the rapid ice melt will cause sea level rise to be up by 5 meters causing “dire” consequences.
“The collapse of the west Antarctic ice sheet is a worrying climate tipping point,” Dr. Taimoor Sohail, from the University of New South Wales, said. “This assessment suggests that accelerated melting of ice shelves is locked in. The implications for sea-level rise are dire.”
While “previous studies led researchers to believe that the ice sheets would collapse over the course of centuries,” this new report shows that “almost nothing can slow the melting in the next 80 years,” Causes.com reported. With a third of the global population living within 60 miles of the coastline, many of these coastal cities might have to be abandoned scientists believe.
“People who are alive today are going to see a significant increase in the rate of sea level rise in all the coastal cities around the world,” Ted Scambos, glaciologist at the University of Colorado Boulder, said.
Scientists said that stopping the rapid ice melt altogether would be “a real challenge,” but urge policymakers to take this study into great consideration.
“The conclusions of the work are based on a single model and need to be treated carefully,” Tiago Segabinazzi Dotto, senior research scientist from the UK National Oceanography Center, said. “[This] gives confidence that this study needs to be taken in consideration for policymakers.”