Antarctica’s large land-based ice sheets may be more vulnerable to increasing global temperatures than previously thought, according to new research from New Zealand, US and European scientists.
Analysing drill cores of Antarctic rock, they found that Antarctica became its warmest ever 15 million years ago when carbon dioxide levels were 500ppm – only slightly higher than today. In this atmosphere there were already dramatic changes in the deep South such as retreated glaciers, melted ice sheets and plant species growing in areas now to considered too cold for complex life.
Combining this environmental data with computer modelling, US researchers found that future increases in CO2 might not only result in the melting of Antarctic sea ice – as previously studies have shown- but also much of the ice on land.
“[T]he outcome certainly suggests that land-based ice in Antarctica is more susceptible to melt than we previously thought,” says Dr Richard Levy from GNS Science, and author on both studies.
The research has been covered by New Zealand and International outlets:
The Washington Post: Antarctica could be much more vulnerable to melting than we thought
Science News: Sea levels are rising at their fastest rate in 2000 years
RNZ: Antarctica’s ice sheets more sensitive to warming
New Zealand Herald: Antarctica could be more vulnerable to major melting than we thought
Newshub; New concerns over vulnerability of Antarctic ice sheets