An international team of scientists demonstrated in a study this week that if we burned all remaining fossil fuels that’s left on Earth, a large portion of Antarctica would melt into the oceans. Since the majority of the largest cities in the world are ports, the aftermath could be devastating.
Ricarda Winkelmann, lead author of the study, said that if all coal, oil, and gas deposits on Earth were to be burned at once, the entire East Antarctic Ice Sheet would melt. This is the first study to estimate what would happen with the ice sheets from Antarctica in unrestrained fuel burning conditions.
What does this mean? Let’s say that if the sea level would rise by 150-200 feet, more than a billion lives would be put in danger, as some of the world’s largest cities will be partially underwater, including New York City, Tokyo, Shanghai, Sao Paulo, Hong Kong, Singapore, and Melbourne.
Winkelmann warns that humans can not go on in burning fossil fuel carbon and dispose of it as CO2 into the atmosphere, because the Caldeira study clearly demonstrated what would happen to our world if that were to happen.
As we speak, Antarctica has already begun to melt and lose ice as a result of global warming. The main factors is the atmospheric warming and the perpetuated oceanic warming. Currently, there is so much ice in Antarctica that if by any chance it would all melt into the ocean, the average sea levels would increase by 200 feet (cca 50 meters) all around the world, swallowing entire cities.
The polar regions of Antarctica are particularly prone to melting, due to their high sensitivity on the small rises in the average temperature of the atmosphere. Winkelmann stresses that is not a good sign that we have started measuring the changes in global warming by the amount of melting snow from Antarctica’s polar regions, which is also known as “the canary in the coalmine.” The average temperature of the northern Antarctic regions has increased by 3°C in the last half of the century. However, the mean temperature of the southern areas are rising at a slower rate.
Ricarda Winkelmann firmly believes that the result is inevitable, and that the future generations will be heavily affected by our mistakes. The scientist declared that it is not a matter of how quickly Antarctica will vanish from Earth, but rather of what there is for us to do once it has melted.
Photo Credits pixabay