The Met Office’s study, details of which were published today (7 October) used the latest technology to create a climate model coupled to a 3D simulation of the ice sheet to predict changes over thousands of years.

Scientists found there were ‘tipping points’ in the melting of the ice sheet which, when crossed, meant it may only recover to ‘certain levels’ even if we were able to get global temperatures back to pre-industrial levels.

Its report says if the ice sheet shrinks by more than 15%, which could happen within 300 years, it would be ‘locked into a decline’ and would only ever get back to 80% of its current size. This would cause a 1.3metre sea level rise.

Met Office climate scientist specialising in polar regions, Jeff Ridley, said: “The effects of the greenhouse gases we emit today will still be felt long into the future so we will need to start taking action now to stop temperature rises that will still be happening at the end of this century.

“Only by tackling warming temperatures now can we prevent the ice sheet melting past these tipping points, and prevent irreversible sea-level rise.”

Luke Walsh

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