Scientists call for urgent action to reduce emissions to curb Antarctic Ice Sheet melt

Urgent action is needed to reduce emissions, that threaten to melt the Antarctic Ice Sheet, scientists from New Zealand and the US warn.

Sea ice Source: Supplied: GNS/Simon Reeve

A study released this week highlights the sensitivity the Ice Sheet has to climate change.

Richard Levy of GNS Science and Victoria University of Wellington said the research confirms the connection between the way the Earth moves in space, and the changes in the size of the Antarctic Ice Sheet. 

Parts of the Ice Sheet that sit in the ocean are "particularly sensitive", raising questions "about how these changes will affect Earth in the future as carbon emissions rise," Dr Levy says. 

"If we fail to reach emissions targets, the Earth's average temperature will warm more than two degrees, sea ice will diminish, and we will jump back to a world that hasn’t existed for millions of years," Dr Levy says.

Nansen Ice Shelf. Source: GNS - Gavin Dunbar

"Antarctica's vulnerable marine-based ice sheets will feel the effect of our current relatively high tilt and ocean warming at Antarctica's margins will be amplified."

Dr Levy says the impact of "unchecked ice sheet melt on our future societies would be extremely challenging".

"We want to do all we can to minimise future commitments."

Study co-author Professor Tim Naish of Victoria University said it showed urgent action on a national and global scale was needed to change emission behaviour. 

The study is to be published in Nature Geoscience.