Scientists have determined that the Ross Ice Shelf in the Antarctic could collapse without warning in a matter of days, causing a disastrous worldwide sea level rise of sixteen feet. If the West Antarctic Ice Sheet behind it were to then slide into the sea, the increase in sea levels would reach a catastrophic level of over fifty feet, and essentially destroy every coastal city in the world.
Evidence obtained from Antarctic ice cores indicates that the Ross Ice Shelf will collapse, and that the disaster will be sudden, as has happened in the past when, for natural reasons, earth has experienced global warming events such as the one we are causing now. It is not clear when the shelf will fail, but the Larsen Ice Shelf disintegrated in 2002 virtually without warning. The melting of the Larsen shelf did not cause an increase in sea levels because the ice was already floating. This is not true of the entire Ross Shelf,and the West Antarctic Ice Sheet is on land, and thus would add its over eighteen million cubic miles of water to the oceans.
The New Zealand Herald reports that the Ross Ice Shelf is a huge piece of ice the size of France. An ice drilling team from New Zealand has discovered that cores from the ice shelf contain three million years of climate history. They reveal that the Ross Ice Shelf has suddenly collapsed in the past.
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