2°C more heat may mean catastrophic sea level rise

(Climate News Network, 7 May 2021) The Paris Agreement to limit global heat could prevent catastrophic sea level rise, if states keep their promises to cut carbon.

Climate scientists warn that − unless the world acts to limit global heating − the Antarctic ice sheet could begin irreversible collapse. The ice on the Antarctic continent could raise global sea levels by more than 47 metres, higher than a ten-storey building, and enough to unleash catastrophic sea level rise.

Global warming of just 3°C above the long-term average for most of human history would bring on a sea level rise from south polar melting of at least 0.5cms a year from about 2060 onwards.

Right now, greenhouse gas emissions continue to increase as nations burn ever more coal, oil and gas to power economic growth, and the world is on course for temperatures significantly above 3°C.

Researchers calculate in the journal Nature that any global warming that exceeds the target of no more than 2°C by 2100, agreed by almost all of the world’s nations in Paris in 2015, will put the ice shelves that ring the southern continent at risk of melting.

The mass and extent of sea ice acts as a buttress to flow from higher ground. If the sea ice melts, then the flow of glacial ice to the sea will accelerate.

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Climate News Network, 7 May 2021: 2°C more heat may mean catastrophic sea level rise