The first study, published in Nature Wednesday, reexamined a shocking study from 2016 that warned that ice cliffs in Antarctica could collapse this century, contributing three feet to global sea level rise by 2100.
Researchers led by Dr. Tamsin Edwards at King’s College London looked at the geological record and determined this was unlikely to happen.
“We looked in detail at ice-losses 3 million years ago, 125,000 years ago, and over the last 25 years, and found that these ice-cliff collapses aren’t needed to reproduce sea level rises in the past,” Edwards said in a King’s College press release. This suggested to researchers that they were unlikely to play a role in the future, revising down Antarctica’s worst-case scenario sea level rise contribution from 3 feet to 3 to 16 inches by 2100.
That doesn’t mean coastal cities wouldn’t see impacts this century, as National Geographic explains:
“Adding that to the other components that make up sea level rise—how the ocean expands as it warms (which will likely add about 10 inches), the melt from mountain glaciers (about six inches), and changes to the amount of water stored in lakes and rivers on land (one and a half inches), and the total is still a daunting number somewhere between just under two- to over three- foot range.”
But, the researchers told National Geographic, the most dramatic sea level increases would likely take place after 2100 and give cities more time to prepare.
That doesn’t mean ice melt won’t wreak havoc this century, though. The other paper, also published in Nature Wednesday, looked at the impact ice melt from Greenland and Antarctica would have on global climate overall by 2100 based on current climate policies. The result? What a McGill University press release about the research calls “climate chaos.”