Ice in the Antarctic is melting at a record-breaking rate and the subsequent sea rises could have catastrophic consequences for cities around the world – according to two new studies.
A report led by scientists in the UK and US found the rate of melting from the Antarctic ice sheet has accelerated threefold in the last five years and is now vanishing faster than at any previously recorded time.
A separate study warns that unless urgent action is taken in the next decade the melting ice could contribute more than 25cm to a total global sea level rise of more than a metre by 2070.
This could lead eventually to the collapse of the entire west Antarctic ice sheet and around 3.5m of sea-level rise.
Prof Andrew Shepherd from Leeds University and a lead author of the study on accelerating ice loss said: ‘We have long suspected that changes in Earth’s climate will affect the polar ice sheets.
Thanks to our satellites our space agencies have launched we can now track their ice losses and global sea level contribution with confidence’.
He said the rate of melting was ‘surprising’.