Widespread collapse of Antarctic ice shelves – floating extensions of land ice projecting into the sea – could pave the way for dramatic rises in sea level.
The new research predicts a doubling of surface melting of the ice shelves by 2050. By the end of the century the melting rate could surpass the point associated with ice shelf collapse – it is claimed.
If that happened a natural barrier to the flow of ice from glaciers and land-covering ice sheets into the oceans would be removed.
Lead scientist Dr Luke Trusel – Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution in Massachusetts US said: ‘Our results illustrate just how rapidly melting in Antarctica can intensify in a warming climate’.