Antarctic Melting Will Threaten the Lives of Millions in the Near Future

by Kaushal Kumar

During the world’s current battle against climate change, we always hear the impacts that global warming is having on the Arctic. We hear the concerns of environmental scientists on the melting of large amounts of ice in the North and the ramifications that come with it like rising oceans and the release of gas that has been trapped within the ice for centuries, but a recent study shows that global warming may also create “practically irreversible” melting in the Antarctic as well.

According to this report, climate change has and will continue to impact the speed at which the ice at the South Pole will melt. Experts claim, however, that not all warming will lead to the loss of ice, but actually, a small amount of warming will lead to an increase in the amount of ice in the South. This is caused because the increased temperature will speed up the evaporation of seawater, adding more moisture to the air. This extra moisture will create more snowfall in the Antarctic and this increase in snowfall will actually overpower the impact that the small amount of warming has on the speed that the ice melts. 

However, this does not hold up for many more than a small amount of temperature gain. Scientists believe that any more than a rise in temperature of 2 degrees Celsius will have major impacts on the rate that the ice in the Antarctic will melt. With a change of only 2 degrees, they expect sea levels to rise by 2 meters, which the globe is on track to hit by 2100. Even worse heating of 6-9 degrees Celsius could cause ocean levels to rise by as much as 40 meters just from the melting of the ice sheets in the Antarctic alone.

While 2 meters may not seem like much, the impacts that this will have on human life are immense. Today, an estimated two-thirds of the entire human population lives at least 100km from a coast. More than 600 million people live on land that is below 30 feet above sea level and two-thirds of the world’s largest cities (populations over 5 million) are also in these regions. A rise of only 7 feet could displace tens of millions of people, and cause trillions of dollars in damage. With the rate of the warming of the globe only rising, scientists are unsure if we will beat the clock or be forced to adapt to the quickly rising oceans.