Researchers from the University of Massachusetts Amherst, the Pennsylvania State University, GNS Science in New Zealand, and the National Science Foundation’s Antarctic drilling program (ANDRILL) have published a study in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences revealing that ice sheets in the Antarctica are more vulnerable to carbon-dioxide than earlier imagined.
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The scientists based their model on how the last ice sheets of the Antarctica responded 30 years ago when atmospheric CO2 reached levels expected to occur again in the next 30 years, combining this with results of 3,735-foot sediment core analysis to reveal that the Antarctica ice sheets are getting more vulnerable to CO2 than earlier known.
Edward Gasson of the University of Massachusetts Amherst stated that climate scientists had always wanted to make a model that perfectly reflects conditions of the early to mid-Miocene period as revealed by sediment core data. This was likely the last time atmospheric CO2 levels were slightly higher, at 500 parts per million (ppm), than the 400 ppm level reached just last year, and global average temperatures were about 3 to 4 degrees Celsius higher than today.
It must however be noted that the melting ice sheets of the Antarctica may not result in rising global sea levels immediately, and Gasson reveals that “the ice sheets will take hundreds of years to respond, so although CO2 may at the same level during the Miocene in the next 30 years, it doesn’t mean that they will melt in 30 years.”
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Climate scientists are very keen to know how the melting ice sheets will impact on climate change and global warming. Gasson made it clear that the Antarctica ice sheets will completely melt if all fossil fuel reserves are burned out, and this will raise sea levels by over 100 feet – showing that ice sheets does not only respond to high CO2, they also respond to lower levels of atmospheric CO2.