Antarctic Ice Melting Threat Less Serious Than Thought

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Yes, the Antarctic ice sheets are melting, but the scenario is not as grave as previously thought, according to a new study. Past studies have shown that the Antarctic ice melting could cause global sea levels to rise between 30cm and one meter by the end of this century. But the latest study published in the journal Nature says the most likely outcome is a 10cm rise in sea levels by the turn of this century.

How the Antarctic ice sheets would react if…

The extensive study was conducted by researchers at Open University in the UK and Université Grenoble Alpes, France. Arctic and Antarctic regions are warming at double the global average rate. The new study models how the Antarctic ice sheets would react if carbon emissions rise at a “medium to high rate.” Scientists led by Tamsin Edwards concluded that 10cm rise in sea levels was the most likely scenario. The rise of 30cm or more has only 5% chance.

Even though the new estimates are less alarming, a 10cm rise in global sea levels could still displace millions of people across the globe. Tamsin Edwards said previous predictions were based on relatively simple models. But the new study also takes into account the real-world physics such as shape of the continent’s bedrock and how ice sheets move over it.

What past studies failed to see

Scientists assumed a temperature increase of four degrees Celsius by the end of the century compared to the pre-industrialization era. They used statistical methods that took into account scientific uncertainty, and compared past predictions with real-time observations. Edwards and her team also collected data from satellite observations. They performed approximately 3,000 simulations.

Past studies have also done multiple simulations, but they didn’t see how well those simulations compare with the present day, and put that data to make more realistic predictions. Findings of the new study are in line with the 2013 assessment of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC)

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