Greenland and Antarctica’s ice sheets could contribute more than 39cm to global sea-level rise this century, according to a new study published in the journal The Cryosphere.
The Ice Sheet Model Intercomparison Project (ISMIP6) is made up of an international team of scientists and is led by NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center.
The researchers investigated two different scenarios that the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) have set to predict sea-level rise between 2015 and 2100.
Under the high emissions scenario, ice losses from Greenland will cause an additional 9cm of global sea-level rise by 2100 and Antarctica will cause an additional 30cm over the same period.
Under the lower emissions scenario, Greenland’s ice loss would raise global sea level by about 3cm by 2100, while Antarctic growth would lower sea level by 7.8cm.
The greatest loss is from West Antarctica, responsible for up to 18 cm of sea-level rise by 2100 in the warmest conditions.
These results will be used to inform the IPCC’s Sixth Assessment Report, scheduled for release in 2022.
Professor Shepherd, lead author of the study said: ‘Unfortunately it’s now clear that ice sheet losses have risen rapidly during our lifetime, and that this will continue if we don’t reduce our CO2 emissions.
‘An extra 39 centimetres of sea-level rise will cause huge disruption for our coastal communities, so we should view these predictions as a powerful early warning – but now is the time to act.
Project leader and ice scientist Sophie Nowick said: ‘One of the biggest uncertainties when it comes to how much sea level will rise in the future is how much the ice sheets will contribute.
‘And how much the ice sheets contribute is really dependent on what the climate will do.’
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