PerspectiveClimate Change

How fast will the Antarctic ice sheet retreat?

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Science  07 Jun 2019:
Vol. 364, Issue 6444, pp. 936-937
DOI: 10.1126/science.aax2626

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Summary

There is no longer any serious scientific doubt that the retreat of glaciers in Antarctica will eventually cause several meters of sea level rise, unless the emission of anthropogenic greenhouse gas is reduced substantially. By one estimate, each kilogram of carbon emitted as CO2 will ultimately result in the melting of more than two metric tons of Antarctic ice (1). But how quickly this will happen remains highly uncertain, with the implications for society ranging from relatively moderate (2) to possibly catastrophic (3). Larour et al. (4) provide evidence in favor of a somewhat more moderate outlook: They show that the interaction of the ice sheet with the solid Earth —an important aspect of the problem not adequately captured by previous work—may slow down retreat.