It can be easy to overlook the monstrous scale of the Antarctic ice sheet. Ice, thick enough in many places to bury mountains, covers a continent roughly the size of the US and Mexico combined. If it were all to melt, as it has in the past, global sea levels would rise by 58m. While this scenario is unlikely, Antarctica is so massive that just a small fraction of this ice melting would be enough to displace hundreds of millions of people who live by the coast. Low-lying cities face the threat of flooding when extreme weather coincides with high tides. Although typically rare, these events are already increasing in frequency, and will become commonplace as global sea levels increase. Over the coming decades, rising sea levels from melting ice and the expansion of warming oceans will strain societies and economies worldwide. Improving our understanding of how much Antarctica has contributed to sea-level rise in the past, and how much it will contribute in the future, is vital to informing our response to climate change.
Independent 21st June 2018 read more »