The future of Antarctica may be in serious danger as the continent is now more sensitive than ever to the effects of climate change, say scientists.
Burning of fossil fuels is one of the main reasons why the ice sheet is melting in Antarctica. According to scientists the western part of the continent has lost a greater amount of ice, as opposed to the eastern region. Even if the melting in the west is a lot more advanced, the ice sheet in the east will soon have a similar fate, say experts.
A report that was published in Science Advanced states that if the entire Antarctic ice sheet melted, it would lead to a major sea-level rise (60 meters/ 200 feet) across the entire globe.
Unless people stop burning fossil fuels at such a quick pace, water levels will rise by an estimate of 3 meters (10 feet) each century. This could eventually have a devastating outcome in the future.
“If we want to avoid Antarctica becoming ice-free, we need to keep coal, gas and oil in the ground. […] our actions today are changing the face of planet Earth as we know it, and will continue to do so for tens of thousands of years to come,” explained Ricarda Winkelmann, a Junior Professor of Climate System Analysis at the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research.
In the worst case scenario, by burning all the fossil fuels a huge amount of 10,000 billion tons of carbon dioxide (CO2) will be released into the atmosphere, which will lead to a rise in temperature by at least 2 degrees Celsius (35.6 degrees Fahrenheit), explains Ken Caldeira, a researcher at the Carnegie Department of Global Ecology. As a result the weather condition will change drastically, which may pose a threat to future the generations.
Experts also warn that if the sea-level rises to about 60 meters, major cities will be at risk. Metropolis like London, Hamburg, New York, Miami, Washington, Hong Kong, Tokyo, Shanghai will most likely end up submerged under water.
Leverman says that if we want to keep our heritage alive in order to pass it on to future generations, the we need to stop burning the remaining resources of coal, gas and oil.
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