“Point of no return”: Sea levels to rise by 20 metres

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Researchers at the Potsdam institute of Climate Impact Research have suggested that we have reached the point of no return with regards to the state of the polar ice caps as sea levels set to rise by 20 metres as the ice caps.

Whilst speaking at the James Lovelock Centenary conference, Dr Ricarda Winkelmann, from the Potsdam institute, said that the loss of “potentially unstable” ice regions in Antarctica could raise see levels by a minimum of 20 metres.

Dr Winkelmann also demonstrated hopes that these changes could potentially lead to a “societal tipping point”. She seems optimistic that the rapid rise in our sea levels could change society’s overly relaxed attitude towards global warming.

The rapid change in sea level could also serve as an early warning system of what is to come if society continues to mistreat the planet. Dr Winkelmann said “we should all care about ice sheets”.

As the temperature of the ice sheets in Greenland have charged towards the point of no return at such a speed, we can expect the polar icecaps to follow suit.

Winkelmann said: “It’s important to understand that there are these critical thresholds”.

Antarctica’s Amundsen Basin is a large body of ice capable of raising sea levels by at least a metre. Due to global warming, the ice in this region has now passed tipping point meaning that the ice is now unstable. The instability of the Amundsen Basin has resulted in an increase in the number of glaciers flowing into the ocean.

After analysing the region, Winkelmann has stated that this destabilisation is just the start of a long process which will end with the whole region breaking apart and flowing into the ocean.

Another speaker at the conference, Tim Flannery, chief councillor at Climate Change Council Australia (CCCA), suggested that farming seaweed in the open ocean could help to limit climate change by drawing carbon from the atmosphere.

However, this is just a theoretical solution to the issue. Due to the scale of the impact that global warming has had on the plant, farmers would have to plant seaweed on vast areas, several times the size of Australia.

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