2 degrees to go before the Ross Ice Shelf starts to collapse

Warm up the atmosphere by a further 2 degrees, the oceans by 0.5 degrees and the major Antarctic ice shelves will collapse. These are the findings of Nick Golledge from Victoria University of Wellington and colleagues. They ran a three dimensional model of the antarctic ice sheets and found that the only IPCC greenhouse gas scenario that did not lead to ice shelf collapse was if green-house gas emissions peaked this decade. All others led to ice shelf collapse. The scenario where green house gases continue to increase at the current rate leads to the ice-shelves collapsing by the end of this century. The ice shelves currently act as a buttress, holding back glacier flow from within the continent. Without the ice shelves these glaciers will speed up and so will their contribution to sea level rise. This effect will continue for thousands of years. This work was published in Nature

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