There is a distinct point of no return where a vast amount of ice will slip away from Antarctica’s landmass into the ocean, with consequences for global sea levels.
A study published online in Nature Climate Change this week suggests that although some large areas of ice sheet can melt without any immediate effect on the rest of the ice shelf, others would only be able to lose a limited, almost negligible amount without major impacts.
Even if as little as five per cent of some ice shelves were to disappear, the ice would likely lose its land-locked roots, the French and German researchers found.
They concluded ice shelves in the Amundsen and Bellingshausen seas were the most vulnerable and called for immediate monitoring of these and other potentially unstable shelves.
Melt of the Antarctic ice sheets plays a crucial part in global sea level rise.