Another warning on global warming: West Antarctic ice sheet could collapse, causing massive sea level rise

Two Adelie penguins stand atop a block of melting ice on a rocky shoreline at Cape Denison, Commonwealth Bay, in East Antarctica, on Jan. 1, 2010.Reuters

Here's another warning of a possible disastrous future for our planet if mankind does not squarely address global warming: the West Antarctic ice sheet could collapse in the next 250 years, causing massive sea level rise that could inundate and even wipe some islands off the map.

A team of researchers made this dire prediction for planet Earth in a study recently published in the scientific journal "Nature," warning that the collapse of the West Antarctic ice could raise sea levels to more than 49 feet by 2500.

The scientists—geoscientist Rob DeConto from the University of Massachusetts Amherst and paleoclimatologist David Pollard from the Pennsylvania State University in University Park—told Fox News that atmospheric warming due to mankind's greenhouse gas emissions would be a "dominant driver" of ice loss.

DeConto and Pollard further said that Antarctic ice sheets would be difficult to recover due to global warming. They estimated that sea levels can rise as much as 3 feet by the year 2100.

The co-authors made these conclusions after using a model that combines ice sheet and climate dynamics. They also used various processes that sought to establish a connection between atmospheric warming and "hydrofracturing of buttressing ice shelves and structural collapse of marine-terminating ice cliffs."

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The scientists used sea-level estimates from the Pliocene and Last Interglacial periods in their processes, and linked these to future greenhouse gas emission scenarios.

The good news is that the world still has a chance to avoid the apocalyptic scenario of massive sea level rise wiping out entire countries.

In their published study, DeConto said limiting the average global temperature to 3.6 degrees (2 degrees Celsius) through cutting greenhouse gas emissions would slow down and even completely prevent the possible collapse of the the West Antarcic ice sheet.

DeConto and Pollard's study is only one of those that attribute rising seas due to melting ice sheets in Greenland and West Antarctica to global climate change.

Some members of the scientific community, however, believe that climate change has been going on since the beginning of time.

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