The East Antarctic Ice Sheet could be in more danger of collapsing than previously thought, National Geographic reports. The ice sheet is the world’s largest, holding 80% of the planet’s ice. But some 400,000 years ago, a large chunk about the size of Arizona collapsed into the ocean, causing sea levels to rise by more than 3 meters. The worrying thing is that this happened during a period of relatively mild warmth, according to a study published yesterday in Nature. And it could happen again. At the time of the previous collapse, the amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere had reached about 300 parts per million (ppm). It now stands at 400 ppm. The researchers say this has caused them to re-evaluate the perceived “invincibility” of the East Antarctic Ice Sheet and seriously consider the possibility of it shrinking. These findings are consistent with estimates of sea-level rise caused by glacial melting elsewhere on the continent and around the world.
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