Eventually, the world is informed about giant icebergs that have dropped from Antarctica, just like the recent A-76, certified by the European Space Agency (ESA) as the largest in the world. While some scientists see detachment as part of the glacier life cycle, others point to a sign that climate change is exacerbating the disintegration of the continent - and this statement is corroborated by a study published by the journal Nature.
The study was supported by scientists from various universities and research institutes. “Antarctica is heading for a climatic tipping point in 2060, with a catastrophic meltdown if the carbon emissions are not cut quickly. As the focus is on climate change in the Arctic, an even greater threat is approaching from the other side of the planet, ”he said in an article for the website The Conversation, Andrea Dutton - who is a carbonate geochemist and sedimentologist at the University of Wisconsin-Madison and one of the authors of the research.
Antarctica is the region that poses the most threats to the planet, as it has enough land ice to increase sea level by more than 60 meters - which represents about 10 times the Greenland ice sheet. With physical inflection points, which can accelerate ice loss in an uncontrolled way, the situation on the continent can reach a critical point in less than 40 years.
According to Nature, if greenhouse gas emissions continue at the same pace as they do today, by the year 2060 the rise of the sea will be disastrous to the point of becoming irreversible and, starting in 2100, the level should rise steadily, 10 times faster than today.
Nowadays, Antarctica has protective ice platforms that help to slow the flow of terrestrial glaciers to the sea. However, they can be diluted and even break in contact with the warmer water, which passes under the structures. Therefore, as the platforms are broken, cliffs may end up not being able to stand for a long time, at the risk of collapsing.
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In the article, researchers explain that there are two possibilities of instability that can happen. In the first case, the part of the Antarctic ice sheets that are on a rocky bed below sea level can be directed to the center of the continent, with the heating of the water melting the lower edges, breaking up. Above water, rain and melting of the surface can create cracks in the ice.
To arrive at the results, the scientists used a computational model based on the physics of the ice sheets. According to the findings, a warming above 2 ° C is enough for the loss of ice in Antarctica to get out of control, something that should occur with the Thwaites glacier, responsible for draining an area of 160 kilometers in length. Unfortunately, the current forecasts of the United Nations (UN) and other international bodies are that the Land it will, in fact, increase by 2 ° C by 2060.
Other projections no longer consider the instability of this giant glacier and estimate a lower amount of sea level rise. In any case, both possibilities arrive at the same two conclusions: that the fulfillment of the goals of the Paris Agreement they can reduce the rise of the sea and that the melting of ice sheets can cause an increase in the sea level.
The new research by Nature it is one of the first to bring data beyond the current century, proving that if today's emissions continue in the same way, sea level will increase by six centimeters a year until 2150. If so, in 2300 the melt will be 10 times greater than expected by the targets of the Agreement, which plans a temperature rise of 1,5 ° C to 2 ° C. This, with the help of technology to remove carbon dioxide from the air, cooling the planet.
According to the UN, emissions would need to be reduced by 50% by 2030, and the forecast based on current efforts is just 1%.
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