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The research team at London’s University College have run models to predict the effect on the UK if three vast ice sheets in Greenland, the East Antarctic and West Antarctic were to melt as global temperatures continue to rise.

In the worst case scenario, if all three were to melt, the sea level would surge up by almost 300 feet, swallowing London, Edinburgh, Cardiff, Bristol, Newcastle and a host of other coastal towns and cities as well as washing over huge tracts of low-lying inland areas.

East Anglia would be wiped off the map, along with most of southern and eastern England leaving little but the central spine of the country intact.

Only the Scottish Highlands and Welsh hills would remain recognisable on the map.

But experts agree that it is a very slim chance all three ice sheets will thaw within the next couple of centuries, and this would only be likely if humanity completely ignored the threat of climate change and continued pumping out greenhouse gases to its heart’s content.

More realistic is the possibility that the Western Antarctic sheet alone would melt, sending water rising by around 23 feet, still enough to cause major problems for coastal and riverside settlements.

Most scientists accept there is at least a one in 20 chance of this happening within the next 200 years, and say it is not beyond the realms of reason to believe the Greenland sheet may go too, for a total rise of some 45 feet.

The East Antarctic sheet will be the last to go as temperatures there are considerably colder than on the other ice sheets, by some 15°C.

By Sam Bond

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