Arctic ice sheets can melt at a speed of 50 cm per day

Arctic ice sheets can melt at a speed of 50 cm per day – such dynamics were observed at the end of the last ice age. This is much faster than today – but it does not mean that the melting speed will not increase in the near future. This is stated in a study by scientists from the University of Cambridge, published in the journal Science.

The Paris Agreement aims to enhance the implementation of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change. This is especially true for keeping global temperature growth at least 2°C until the end of the century compared to the pre-industrial era, and it is best to limit its growth to 1.5°C.

Moreover, an increase in global temperature even by 2°C will lead to the fact that the Arctic Ocean will be completely free of ice once every ten years, the level of the World Ocean will increase by 35 cm, and all coral reefs will be completely destroyed.

The sea-level increase associated with emissions during the Paris Agreement is about 20% of the total sea-level rise of one meter, expected by 2300. 1 m sea level rise is associated with emissions dating back to 1750.

In order to determine the future rate of glacier melting, researchers are trying to understand how quickly the ice cover disappeared in the past. As part of a new study, glaciologists examined the undulating protrusions on the ocean floor off the coast of Antarctica to determine how quickly ice melted at the end of the last ice age about 12 thousand years ago.

The research was carried out using an underwater drone AUV, which is capable of diving to a depth of 60 m. The work showed that 12 thousand years ago, the ice shelves surrounding the Antarctic coastline retreated at a speed of up to 50 m per day.

“Having studied the last trace of the retreat of the ice sheet and a number of ridges on the seabed, we obtained new data on the maximum ice melting rates in the past, which are much higher than those observed even in the most sensitive parts of Antarctica today. If climate change continues to weaken ice shelves in the coming decades, we will see a similar process that will have serious consequences for rising sea levels”.

Julian Dowdeswell, lead author of the research