If We Burn All the World’s Fossil Fuels, We’ll Melt Antarctica & Flood the Earth
Well, climatologists have answered the so-called ‘Antarctica question’—whether burning the planet’s reserves of coal, oil, and natural gas would melt our iciest continent—and, as you might imagine, it’s not a pleasant conclusion. It’s a resounding “Yes.”
Renowned climate scientist Ken Caldeira (who I profiled here) and a team of researchers have modeled the scenario in which humankind burns through every last sooty inch of its carbon reserves. Their finding?
“We show in simulations using the Parallel Ice Sheet Model that burning the currently attainable fossil fuel resources is sufficient to eliminate the ice sheet,” the authors write in a study published today in Science Advances. Yes, that’s eliminate, as in, entirely. “With cumulative fossil fuel emissions of 10,000 gigatonnes of carbon (GtC)”—the total amount worldwide—“Antarctica is projected to become almost ice-free with an average contribution to sea-level rise exceeding 3 meter per century during the first millennium.”