The West Antarctic ice sheet could have started an irreversible collapse of hundreds of years that would raise sea levels by up to three meters, according to a study published today by the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS).
This is the conclusion of an investigation carried out by scientists from the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research (Germany) from models with computer simulation.
The study showed that with another 60 years of thawing at the current rate, the West Antarctic ice sheet could exceed a threshold beyond which complete long-term disintegration would occur.
According to the authors, if the West Antarctic ice sheet has already started to be unstable, the threshold could be reached much earlier or already exceeded.
Furthermore, the research suggests that, if destabilization has begun, it would be impossible to avoid a sea level rise of up to three meters in the next few centuries.
Numerous studies have so far indicated that West Antarctica is losing more ice every year, especially in the Amundsen Sea sector, where instability has already begun.
Scientists Johannes Feldmann and Anders Levermann carried out simulations with the "Parallel Ice Sheet Model", developed by the University of Alaska and the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research, to test whether instability in the Amundsen sector could lead to the collapse of the entire ice sheet in the sea.