Antarctica may seem far away for most of us, yet this remote continent contains enough ice to raise sea levels around the world by tens of metres. Its fate has important implications for coastal regions worldwide and the billions of people who live within them. Ice currently locked up in the Antarctic ice sheet flows to the coast within rivers of ice, known as ice streams or glaciers. These flow much more rapidly than the surrounding ice. The acceleration and retreat of the many large glaciers that drain the Antarctic ice sheet is known as “dynamic ice loss”. It stubbornly remains the largest single source of uncertainty around projections of future sea level rise (pdf). One cause for concern is that continued global warming may cause some glaciers to cross a “tipping point” known as the “marine ice sheet instability”. A tipping point is a threshold where a small, incremental change could push a system into a completely new state.
Carbon Brief 6th April 2021 read more »