A massive ice sheet is in danger of melting, even if the temperatures rise by just 2°C, possible sparks climate chaos.
Scientists say that if the East Antarctic ice sheet –that is 60 times the size of England – melt, the sea level could rise by four metres, which areas of the united kingdom in danger of disappearing.
Experts are now warning that more needs to be done to prevent continued warming of the earth.
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The melting of the ice can have a devastating effect on the world, causing the planet to warm up faster changing ocean circulation systems that apply for the global weather, and the increase of the risk of floods and tsunami’s damage.
A study in the historical ice loss suggests even a “moderate warming” of the Earth, melting the East Antarctic ice sheet.
“With the current global temperature is already one degree higher than in pre-industrial times, future ice loss seems to be inevitable if we fail to reduce carbon emissions,” said Dr. David Wilson, of the Imperial College in London, who worked on the study.
Scientists have poured a lot of effort in the studies of the West Antarctic ice sheet, which usually sits on land below sea level.
Because of the low-lying position, it contributes to most of the continent’s melting ice cream today.
But the experts of the Imperial College London and the University of Queensland have now investigated risks for the East Antarctic ice sheet.
The EAIS is the largest ice sheet on the Earth, and poses a great danger as it disappears.
Now a study in Nature suggests that the 2°C warming of the earth is more than “a few millennia” can lead to significant melting of the EAIS.
“Antarctica is about twice the size of Australia, with ice caps severalkilometerss thick and with about half of the world’s fresh water,” said Dr Kevin Welsh, the University of Queensland, one of the co-author of the study.
“The East Antarctic ice sheet, covers about two third of the area, and because the base is mostly above sea level, it was generally thought to be less sensitive to warming climate than the adjacent West Antarctic ice sheet.
“However, some areas – such as the Wilkes Land Subglacial Basin, directly south of Australia are below sea level and contains enough ice to raise global sea level by several meterss.
“The evidence we have, suggests that the predicted 2°C global warming on Antarctica – if sustained more than a few millennia – the sheet would start with the melting of these locations.”
Welsh team examined historic ice movements to effectively predict the future.
Glaciers, which are created by the ice sheets, the grinding of stone on the land.
These rocks are then transported to the nearby Southern Ocean as sediment. This creates a record of earlier erosion by the ice sheet.
Researchers chemically analyzed layers of sediment from the ocean floor, which would arise from the Wilkes Subglacial Basin – that are collected as part of the Integrated Ocean Drilling Program.
The study looked at sediment layers that had settled on the seabed during the four warm intervals between the ice ages in the last 450,000 years.
“Study of ice behaviour in the geological past can inform us about the changes in the future,” said Dr. Wilson.
“By building a picture of how the ice sheet has grown and shrunk as the temperature fluctuated, we can understand the response of the EAIS to future warming of the earth.”
The team found chemical “fingerprints” in the sediment which showed that the patterns of erosion as the ice sheet advanced and retreated.
It turned out that the ice sheet had retreated from the current measure during some of these warmer “interglacial” periods, between 125,000 and 400,000 years ago.
More importantly, at the time, the temperatures were as little as two degrees warmer than the pre-industrial period, and a degree warmer than today.
During these warmer periods, global sea levels were between six and 13 metres higher than today.
According to the researchers, if all the ice in the Wilkes Subglacial Basin melted in the modern time, the global sea level would rise up to four metres.
“We found that the most extreme changes in the antarctic ice sheet occurred during two interglacial periods 125,000 and 400,000 years ago when global sea levels were several meters higher than they are today,” Dr. Walsh explained.
“These periods may be analogues for future climates and it seems likely that ice loss from the East Antarctic ice sheet, contributed to this higher sea level.
“Ice loss is contributing to the worldwide rising sea level that are a threat to many communities along the coast, and making predictions requires a good understanding of how sensitive these ice sheets.”
One of the biggest worries about the rising sea level is the risk than the smaller, more common tsunamis can have a more damaging effect than they do today.
Last month, scientists issued a warning about the risks of the “devastating tsunami”, caused by climate change.
Research in the Science Progress suggested that the increase of the sea level caused by global warming – significant increase of the threat of giant killer waves.
Experts modeled the effects of tsunamis on the basis of the sea level to rise, and discovered alarming results.
It turned out that the increase of the sea level allowed the tsunami to reach much further inland, a significant increase of the risk of floods.
This means that small tsunamis that might not be fatal today can wreak havoc in the future.
“Our research shows that the sea-level rise can significantly increase the tsunami hazard, which means that smaller tsunamis in the future can have the same adverse effects as large tsunamis of today would be the day,” said Robert Weiss, a professor of geosciences at Virginia Tech.
And if you think that Britain is safe from tsunamis, think again.
Earlier this week, research has shown that there are deadly tsunami’s crashing in the UK is more common than previously thought.
Scientists believe that three killer waves have hit the united kingdom in the last 10,000 years – the increase of the possibility that another may be the result.
We already knew about one of them: around 8,200 years ago, the Storegga submarine landslide off the coast of Norway led to a 20-meter-high tsunami that swept across the Shetland islands.
Now experts have discovered evidence of two additional tsunami that took place even more recently.
Researchers from Dundee University and the British Geological Survey found sands on the Shetland islands, which prove that two separate tsunamis hit in Britain in the fairly recent history.
“We found sand in the age of 5,000 and 1,500 years old, at multiple locations in Shetland, up to 13m above the sea level,” said Dr. Sue Dawson, from the University of Dundee.
This story originally appeared in The Sun.