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Scientists call for action to save Antarctic ice sheet

The Antarctic ice sheets are under threat, a new research on Tuesday, January 15, 2019 led by New Zealand and U.S. scientists who call for concrete action to cut greenhouse gas emissions, revealed in a report.

Antarctic ice sheet
Global warming is melting ice in Antarctica faster than ever before – about six times more per year now than 40 years ago, leading to increasingly high sea levels worldwide, scientists warned on January 14, 2019. Already, Antarctic melting has raised global sea levels more than half an inch (1.4 centimeters) between 1979 and 2017, said the report in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS), a peer-reviewed US journal. Photo credit: Chris LARSEN / NASA / AFP

The study underscored just how sensitive the ice sheet is to climate change, according to Richard Levy of GNS Science and Victoria University of Wellington and Stephen Meyers of the University of Wisconsin-Madison, who jointly led the research team.

“We’ve long known that the way the Earth moves in space influences climate.

“If we fail to reach emissions targets, the Earth’s average temperature will warm more than two degrees, sea ice will diminish.

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“We will jump back to a world that hasn’t existed for millions of years,’’ Levy added.

The research confirms a connection between those astronomical changes and changes in the size and extent of the Antarctic ice sheets.

“It highlights that parts of the ice sheets that sit in the ocean are particularly sensitive to changes in the tilt of our planets axis,” Levy said.

He said that it also raised serious questions about how these changes would affect Earth in the future as carbon emissions rise.

“Antarctica’s vulnerable marine-based ice sheets will feel the effect of our current relatively high tilt, and ocean warming at Antarctica’s margins will be amplified,’’ he said.

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The study’s co-author, Tim Naish of the Antarctic Research Centre at Victoria University of Wellington, has also added that urgent action is needed on cutting emissions, and it needs to happen on a national and global level. 

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