A conclusion of a new study predicts that if the current rate of climate change is not reduced the Totten Glacier in East Antarctica could collapse and trigger the rise in the sea level to more than 2 metres. Scientists believe that a major glacier melting into the Antarctic ocean could spell disaster for the world.
East Antarctica is considered to be the world’s largest area of ice and thought to be more stable than the West Antarctic ice sheet. But now scientists seemed to realise that it is no longer so. Among all the glaciers in East Antarctica, Totten Glacier is considered as most vulnerable and it has been predicted that the glacier could cross a critical threshold within the next century.
The new research is focused on the glacier’s underlying geology and has revealed that if it retreats another 100-150 km, its front is going to sit on an unstable bed which will prompt a period of rapid retreat for Totten Glacier. Thus, its floating ice sheet could withdraw up to 300 km and thus, could release vast amount of water. This could contribute to a possible 2.9 metres rise in the global sea level, according to Science Daily.
The study was conducted by scientists from the Imperial College London and different institutes in Australia, the US and New Zealand. Last year, the team discovered that warm water is present underneath a floating portion of the glacier generating more melting of ice than the expected level.
Dr Alan Aitken of the University of Western Australia and co-author of the new study published in the journal Nature, said, “While traditional models haven’t suggested this glacier can collapse, more recent models have.”
Noteworthy, this is the first study carried out by Dr Aitken and his colleagues to analyse the stability of Totten Glacier’s ice sheet, as per ABC. Dr Aitken said that the collapse had happened in the past and the history could be repeated if it passed a tipping point, which according to him “would occur if we had between 3 and 6 degrees of warming above present.”
Dr Aitken said that the good news is that we could stop the Glacier from total meltdown by limiting the global warming to 2 degrees above present level. The study has again pointed towards the global warming and its adverse effects on our environment and also the need to control it.