Thursday, 25 February 2016

Antarctica could be more vulnerable to major melting than we thought

Scientists say that Antarctica seems to have given up tremendous volumes of ice. Photo / iStock 
In two new studies, scientists say that the vast ice continent of Antarctica seems to have given up tremendous volumes of ice -- even sprouting considerable plant life -- during an era over 10 million years ago when concentrations of atmospheric carbon dioxide don't seem to have been all that much higher than they are now.

That period was known as the Miocene. And during its early and middle phases, between 23 and 14 million years ago, carbon dioxide concentrations are believed to have sometimes reached around 500 parts per million or somewhat higher -- not so very far from the 400 parts per million (and rising) where we stand today.

During this same era, finds the research, the continent is believed to have lost volumes of ice equivalent to tens of meters of sea level rise around the globe. Overall, Antarctica currently contains enough ice to raise seas by some 60 metres, were it to melt entirely.

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