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Climate change to precipitate Antarctic ice sheet collapse

Last updated: 10 January, 2011
Toronto, Jan 10, (IANS): 12:08 IST

Rising carbon dioxide levels will precipitate the collapse of the West Antarctic ice sheet by the year 3000, causing sea levels to rise by four metres.

The study is the first full climate model simulation to make predictions for the next 1,000 years from now.

It is based on best-case, 'zero-emissions' scenarios constructed by researchers from the Canadian Centre for Climate Modelling and Analysis at University of Victoria, and the University of Calgary.

"We created 'what if' scenarios," geography professor Shawn Marshall at University of Calgary said, the journal Nature Geoscience reports. "What if we completely stopped using fossil fuels and put no more carbon dioxide in the atmosphere? How long would it then take to reverse the current climate change trends and will things first become worse?"

The research team explored zero-emission scenarios beginning in 2010 and in 2100, according to a Calgary statement. The northern hemisphere fares better than the south in the computer simulations, with patterns of climate change reversing within the 1,000-year timeframe in places like Canada.

At the same time, parts of North Africa experience desertification as land dries out by up to 30 percent, and ocean warming of up to five degrees Celsius around Antarctica is likely to trigger widespread collapse of the West Antarctic ice sheet - a region the size of the Canadian prairies.

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