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Rapid melting in West Antarctica is ‘unavoidable,’ with disastrous consequences for sea level rise

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By illuminem briefings

· 2 min read

illuminem summarizes for you the essential news of the day. Read the full piece on CNN or enjoy below:

🗞️ Driving the news: West Antarctica's ice shelves are undergoing rapid melting, which may now be an inevitable consequence of accelerated human-induced global warming
• This melting poses severe implications for global sea level rise, as highlighted by recent research

🔭 The context: Ice shelves, which are extensions of glaciers into the ocean, play a crucial role in holding back land ice, slowing its flow into the sea, but as these shelves melt, they thin out, losing their ability to act as barriers, which can lead to increased sea level rise
• The study, published in the journal Nature Climate Change, indicates that even if global heating targets are met, West Antarctica will still face significant ocean warming and ice shelf melting

🌍 Why it matters for the planet: West Antarctica is a significant contributor to global sea level rise. The region holds enough ice to raise sea levels by an average of 5.3 meters or over 17 feet
• The Thwaites Glacier, often referred to as the "Doomsday glacier," is of particular concern. Its potential collapse could result in a multi-foot rise in sea levels, threatening coastal communities and low-lying islands

⏭️ What's next: Despite the grim outlook for West Antarctica, it's crucial not to lose sight of the broader goal: reducing fossil fuel emissions can still prevent catastrophic impacts in other parts of Antarctica and globally

💬 One quote: "Conventional wisdom is supposed to give people hope, and I don’t see a lot of hope in this story. But it’s what the science tells me and it’s what I have to communicate to the world" (Kaitlin Naughten, British Antarctic Survey) 

📈 One stat: West Antarctica, already a significant contributor to global sea level rise, has the potential to raise sea levels by an average of 5.3 meters or more than 17 feet

Click for more news covering the latest on climate change

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