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The largest glacier in East Antarctica, containing ice equivalent to a six-metre (20-foot) rise in global sea levels, is melting due to warm ocean water, Australian scientists said Monday. The 120-kilometre (74.4 mile) long Totten Glacier, which is more than 30 kilometres wide, had been thought to be in an area untouched by warmer currents.
According to a recent study published in the journal Public Library of Science, glacial melt is taking a backseat in the Himalayas to permafrost melt as a central driver of alpine lake expansion and related environmental hazards. This finding is of great importance to policy-makers and communities, who must prepare for flooding and other hazards which can be caused by the expansion of high-altitude lakes.
Sea levels haven’t been rising as quickly during the 20th century as scientists believed — but the rate has really sped up in the last couple decades, according to a new study.

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News of Climate Change

The complete melt of the Greenland ice sheet could occur at lower global temperatures than previously thought, a study in the journal Nature Climate Change showed on Sunday, increasing the threat and severity of a rise in sea level. Substantial melting of land ice could contribute to long-term sea level rise of several meters, potentially threatening the lives of millions of people.
“Our study shows that a temperature threshold for melting the (ice sheet) exists and that this threshold has been overestimated until now,” said scientists at the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research and the Universidad Complutense de Madrid, who used computer simulations of the ice sheet's evolution to predict its future behaviour. A complete ice sheet melt could happen if global temperatures rose between 0.8 and 3.2 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels, with a best estimate of 1.6 degrees, the scientists said. Previous research has suggested the ice sheet could melt in a range of a 1.9 to 5.1 degree temperature rise, with a best estimate of 3.1 degrees.

One-twentieth of the world's ice is in Greenland, which is about a quarter of the size of the United States and about 80 percent of it is covered by the ice sheet. If it all melted it would be equivalent to a 6.4 meter global sea level rise, previous research has shown. "If the global temperature significantly overshoots the threshold for a long time, the ice will continue melting and not regrow - even if the climate would, after many thousand years, return to its pre-industrial state,” said team leader Andrey Ganopolski at the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research. Today, global warming of 0.8 degrees has already been recorded.

“The more we exceed the threshold, the faster it melts,” said Alexander Robinson, lead-author of the study. If the world takes no action to limit greenhouse gas emissions, the earth could warm by 8 degrees Celsius. “This would result in one fifth of the ice sheet melting within 500 years and a complete loss in 2,000 years,” he said. “This is not what one would call a rapid collapse. However, compared to what has happened in our planet's history, it is fast. And we might already be approaching the critical threshold. If temperature rise is limited to 2 degrees Celsius, a complete melt of the ice sheet could happen in 50,000 years, the study found.

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