East Antarctic Ice Sheet Vulnerable to Melting Within Paris 2°C Goal

Nature, July 22

Large sections of the massive Wilkes Basin ice sheet of East Antarctica, holding 3-4 meters of SLR collapsed only 400,000 years ago, retreating over 700 km inland from the current ice margin – dispelling theories that it had been stable for millions of years. This glacial retreat, measured through traces of uranium-234 in rock formations, took place during a long period of global warming, with elevated CO2 and temperatures of just 1°C to 2°C above preindustrial levels.  This finding supports previous studies theorizing that, like the West Antarctic Ice Sheet (WAIS), parts of East Antarctica can also begin losing mass even at current levels of warming and within the 2°C Paris Agreement goal; emphasizing the need to remain within 1.5°C and return temperatures to lower levels to prevent or slow massive global SLR.


Compiled by Amy Imdieke