Scientists identify new Antarctic ice sheet ‘tipping point,’ warning future sea level rise may be underestimated

by | Jun 25, 2024 | Science

The Antarctic ice sheet is melting in a new, worrying way that scientific models used to project future sea level rise have not taken into account, suggesting current projections could be significantly underestimating the problem, according to a new study.Scientists from the British Antarctic Survey found that warm ocean water is seeping beneath the ice sheet at its “grounding line” — the point at which the ice rises from the seabed and starts to float — causing accelerated melting which could lead to a tipping point, according to the report published Tuesday in the journal Nature Geoscience.A tipping point refers to the threshold at which a series of small changes accumulate to push a system beyond a point of no return.The melting works like this: relatively warm ocean water opens cavities in the ice, allowing more water to seep in, which causes more melting and larger cavities to form, and so on.A small increase in ocean temperatures can have a very big impact on the amount of melting, the study found. As climate change heats up the oceans, the process speeds up.“You get this kind of runaway feedback,” said Alex Bradley, an ice dynamics researcher at BAS and lead author of the paper. It behaves like a tipping point, he told CNN, “where you can have a very sudden shift in how much melting is happening in these places.”This tipping point would play out through a faster flow of ice into the oceans, in a process not currently included in models …

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[mwai_chat context=”Let’s have a discussion about this article:nnThe Antarctic ice sheet is melting in a new, worrying way that scientific models used to project future sea level rise have not taken into account, suggesting current projections could be significantly underestimating the problem, according to a new study.Scientists from the British Antarctic Survey found that warm ocean water is seeping beneath the ice sheet at its “grounding line” — the point at which the ice rises from the seabed and starts to float — causing accelerated melting which could lead to a tipping point, according to the report published Tuesday in the journal Nature Geoscience.A tipping point refers to the threshold at which a series of small changes accumulate to push a system beyond a point of no return.The melting works like this: relatively warm ocean water opens cavities in the ice, allowing more water to seep in, which causes more melting and larger cavities to form, and so on.A small increase in ocean temperatures can have a very big impact on the amount of melting, the study found. As climate change heats up the oceans, the process speeds up.“You get this kind of runaway feedback,” said Alex Bradley, an ice dynamics researcher at BAS and lead author of the paper. It behaves like a tipping point, he told CNN, “where you can have a very sudden shift in how much melting is happening in these places.”This tipping point would play out through a faster flow of ice into the oceans, in a process not currently included in models …nnDiscussion:nn” ai_name=”RocketNews AI: ” start_sentence=”Can I tell you more about this article?” text_input_placeholder=”Type ‘Yes'”]
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