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Burning all Earth’s fossil fuels would melt Antarctica, raise seas, study finds


According to a study published Friday, scientists have predicted that burning all of Earth’s coal, oil and natural gas would raise the temperature, in turn melting the entire ice sheet covering Antarctica. This would also raise sea levels by 50 to 60 meters that would sink the world’s coastal cities.west-antarctic-ice-sheet-melting

Scientists were surprised that the change would happen in about 1,000 years, and sea levels would rise by a foot in a decade. Along with Antarctica, the rest of earth’s land ice would melt, in turn sea levels will rise by about 200 feet. Dr. Ricarda Winkelmann, lead researcher for the study, calculated the effects of positive feedback mechanisms, such as ice instability that may fasten the melting, and negative one, such as snowfall that might offset it.

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“To be blunt: If we burn it all, we melt it all,” said Winkelmann, a researcher at the Potsdam Insititute for Climate Impact Research in Germany.

A 200 foot rise in sea level could submerge all of Florida, almost all of Louisiana and Texas, the entire East Coast of the United States, parts of Britain, large parts of the European Plain and parts of coastal Asia. Cities including New York, London, Paris, Berlin, Shanghai, Rome, Tokyo and others would be lost due to the rising sea levels. The study predicts the risks that the future generation would face, if the greenhouse gases are not brought under control.

Ken Caldeira, a researcher at the Carnegie Institution for Science in Stanford, California and co-author of the study said we are not a subtle influence on the climate system – we are really hitting it with a hammer. Several industrialized nations, including developing countries came together in 2009 in Copenhagen, to plan an agreement to replace the 1992 Kyoto Protocol. Though the talks were seen as a failure, delegates agreed in a non-binding fashion that “global temperature should be below 2 degree Celsius” above preindsutrial levels.

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