Daily Climate discusses how scientists probe ancient history of the East Antarctic Ice Sheet and find unsettling news about sea level rise. The eastern Antarctic Wilkes Basin ice sheet seems to have receded during a warming event about 400,000 years ago—such a loss could add an additional 13 feet to sea level rise in the future.
However, in a Nature paper published today, a team of researchers present evidence that the ice sheet covering Wilkes Basin in East Antarctica receded roughly 435 miles during the Marine Isotopic Stage 11, a particularly long period of warming that occurred roughly 400,000 ago. During this time, the Earth’s average temperature increased between one and two degrees Celsius, an increase comparable to modern climate change projections.
Sea level rise happens relatively slowly—the global average sea level has risen about nine inches over the past 140 years, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.