Since the last official report released by the IPCC back in 2007, global sea level rises have already exceeded the predicted figures to be reached by the end of the century. In fact new research suggests that West Antarctica is warming nearly twice as fast as previously thought, accounting for the far faster rise in sea levels.
According to cleantechnica.com, “the average annual temperatures in West Antarctica, at the Byrd research station, have increased an incredible 2.4 degrees Celsius (4.3F) in the years since the 1950s.” Three times the global average increase.
David Bromwich, a geography professor at the Ohio State University, confirmed that “the western part of the ice sheet is experiencing nearly twice as much warming as previously thought,” which “raises further concerns about the future contribution of Antarctica to sea level rise. Higher summer temperatures raised risks of a surface melt of ice and snow even though most of Antarctica is in a year-round deep freeze.”
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If West Antarctica were to melt then it would cause sea levels to rise by at least 3.3 metres around the world; meaning that low lying countries, and some important cities such as London, New York, and Buenos Aires, are vulnerable.
Reuters reported that, “the United Nations panel of climate experts projects that sea levels will rise by between 18 and 59cms this century, and by more if a thaw of Greenland and Antarctica accelerates, due to global warming caused by human activities.
The rise in temperatures in the remote region was comparable to that on the Antarctic Peninsula to the north, which snakes up towards South America, according to the U.S.-based experts writing in the journal Nature Geoscience.”
The increasing temperatures have caused instability in the Antarctic leading to several significant ice shelves collapsing and disintegrating over the past few years. this then means that the glaciers originally held in place by the ice shelf is given a free path to the ocean and starts to move much faster, increasing the contribution that the glaciers make to global sea level rises.
Andrew Monaghan, from the US National Centre for Atmospheric Research, said that “the stakes would be much higher if a similar event occurred to an ice shelf restraining one of the enormous West Antarctic ice sheet glaciers.”
By. James Burgess of Oilprice.com