The findings published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences earlier this month reveal that the loss of the West Antarctic Ice Sheet during the last interglacial period (between 129,000 to 116,000 years ago) was “associated with ocean and the release of greenhouse gas methane from marine sediments” and “may have contributed several meters to global sea level at this time,” the study’s abstract explains. The current ice sheet “lies close to a ‘tipping point’ under projected warming,” the researchers added.
“What we’re seeing with the West Antarctic Ice Sheet, that this starting of the melt, once we reach a certain threshold, will continue despite our efforts to stop it,” Zoe Thomas, one of the researchers involved in the study, told Reuters.
The researchers are also planning on conducting more research to determine how quickly the ice sheets melt in certain temperatures.
"This will gradually displace people as it goes. We know this is already happening in small island communities and this will just continue to happen gradually as more and more houses are being inundated at high tide, then at normal tide and then even at low tide,” Thomas added.
In fact, according to Thomas, the only way to stop ice melting in the Antarctic is to remove carbon from the atmosphere."Once we commit to this decarbonized future, we can then start thinking about potential options for trying to remove carbon from the atmosphere," she explained to the outlet.
Just last Thursday, scientists in Antarctica said they had observed a new record temperature of 20.75 degrees Celsius on the continent, which is almost a whole degree higher than the previous Antarctic record of 19.8 degrees Celsius.
The reading on Seymour Island comes after the UN World Meteorological Organization announced on February 7 that a thermometer at an Argentine research station on the Antarctic Peninsula had recorded a temperature of 18.3 degrees Celsius, a reading that, if officially confirmed, would surpass the previous record at the facility by 0.8 degrees Celsius.