Current climate pollution levels put the world on a trajectory to suffer catastrophic sea level rise, but decisive action in line with the Paris Agreement’s goals could substantially reduce its impact, a pair of studies published in Nature find. One of those studies shows the current pace of warming could trigger a sudden acceleration of ice melting in about 40 years, with catastrophic impacts as ice melt is responsible for about half of sea level rise. The other study, however, found that limiting warming to 2.7°F (1.5°C) could slow sea level rise caused by melting Greenland and Antarctic ice sheets to about five inches by 2100.
Predicting ice sheet melt is already extraordinarily complex, but the scientists emphasized the potential for even less predictable, and worse, impacts if global temperatures are left to continue rising. “When we jump to a world that reaches 3 degrees by 2100, [the way ice behaves] really start[s] to change,” Robert M. DeConto of the University of Massachusetts and author of the ‘trigger’ study, told the New York Times. (New York Times $, Washington Post $, Earther, The Guardian, Thomson Reuters Foundation, InsideClimate News, Bloomberg $)