Sydney: Global warming has caused an "irreversible" meltdown of Antarctic ice, and removing carbon from the atmosphere was the only solution to slow the process, an Australian climate researcher told Reuters on Wednesday.
Recent human activity has intensified global warming, which could lead to a mass meltdown of the Antarctic, said Zoe Thomas, a research associate at the University of New South Wales who was part of an international team of scientists who recently published an article on the Antarctic meltdown Ices published.
The study showed that in a warmer world, the world could lose most of the western Antarctic ice sheet, which rests on the ocean floor and is lined with floating ice.
"What we see with the Western Antarctic ice sheet is that once we hit a certain threshold, this melt start will continue despite our efforts to stop it," she told Reuters.
The team hopes to continue research to determine how quickly the ice sheets responded to elevated temperatures, which would help create a more concrete time frame for the future.
The hottest temperature of 18.3 degrees Celsius (64.94 degrees Fahrenheit) ever measured in the Antarctic was measured there on February 6 at a research base. If the higher temperatures persisted, they could cause an extreme global rise in sea level.
"This will gradually replace people," said Thomas. "We know that this is already happening in small island communities, and it will continue to do so gradually as more and more houses are flooded at high tide, then normal tide and then even at low tide."
Thomas said that the only thing that would slow the melting of the ice would be if economies around the world started to decarburize.
"Once we are committed to this decarburized future, we can think of possible options to remove carbon from the atmosphere," she added.
Many advanced economies have pledged to cut CO2 emissions to zero by 2050, although Australia has been largely brought to its knees in one of the worst bushfire seasons of all time, despite recent suffering.
According to a forecast released last month by the UK Met Office, the fires have contributed to one of the largest annual increases in atmospheric carbon dioxide concentrations since records began over 60 years ago.