West Antarctica — home to the Thwaites Glacier, also known as the “Doomsday glacier” — is the continent’s largest contributor to global sea level rise.
Credit: Jeremy Harbeck/OIB/NASA

Rapid melting of West Antarctica’s ice shelves may now be unavoidable as human-caused global warming accelerates, with potentially devastating implications for sea level rise around the world, new research has found.

Even if the world meets ambitious targets to limit global heating, West Antarctica will experience substantial ocean warming and ice shelf melting, according to the new study published Monday in the journal Nature Climate Change.

Ice shelves are tongues of ice that jut out into the ocean at the end of glaciers. They act like buttresses, helping hold ice back on the land, slowing its flow into the sea and providing an important defense against sea level rise. As ice shelves melt, they thin and lose their buttressing ability.

While there has been growing evidence ice loss in West Antarctica may be irreversible, there has been uncertainty about how much […]

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