Melting ice from a major Antarctic glacier could lead to a nearly three metre rise in the world’s oceans, according to new research.
The study published in the journal Nature looked at the retreating ice levels of the Totten Glacier, a glacier in eastern Antarctica roughly the size of France.
Researchers found that if the glacier continues to melt it could cross a critical threshold in the next 100 years, contributing to a 2.9 metre rise in sea-levels.
“The evidence coming together is painting a picture of East Antarctica being much more vulnerable to a warming environment than we thought,” said Martin Siegert, an author on the study and Imperial College London researcher, in a statement.
“This is something we should worry about. Totten Glacier is losing ice now, and the warm ocean water that is causing this loss has the potential to also push the glacier back to an unstable place.”
The new study by researchers from Australia, the U.S., New Zealand and the U.K. follows an earlier study this year that paints a grim picture when it comes to rising sea-levels. Their research shows that without action on climate change global sea levels may rise 1.1 metres by 2100 and 13 meters by 2500.
International leaders gathered in Paris in December for a series of talks on climate change and pledged to keep global temperatures from rising less than 2 C from pre-industrial levels.
However, some leading climate scientists and environmental advocates have criticized the deal as falling short of what is need to curb global warming.