SYDNEY, KOMPAS.com — Australian and other scientists are warning that runaway climate change could melt the East Antarctic Ice Sheet, causing sea levels to rise by up to five meters. The research is published Thursday, Aug. 11 in the journal Nature.
The report by Australian and international researchers is another stark warning about what could happen if targets to limit temperature increases under the 2015 Paris Agreement are not met.
The study suggests that the melting of the world’s biggest ice sheet in the East Antarctic could eventually cause dramatic sea level rises, but that could be avoided by swift action to address climate change.
The East Antarctic Ice Sheet holds the vast majority of world glacier ice.
Researchers describe it as a “sleeping giant” that should not be woken because of the monumental impact its melted ice could have on sea levels.
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The ice shelf was thought to be stable and much less susceptible to global warming, compared to the ice sheet in West Antarctica or Greenland.
However, scientists believe it is now showing unmistakable signs of vulnerability to a shifting climate and a loss of ice has been identified.
Study co-author Nerilie Abram, a professor at the Australian National University’s Research School of Earth Sciences, said the melting of the East Antarctic Ice Sheet could eventually be catastrophic.
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