A study of the West Antarctic Ice Sheet (WAIS) in a 2 degree Celcius warmer world suggest that the region could be highly sensitive for future warming and thus demonstrates the importance of meeting the Paris climate agreement. According to the research, high-resolution environmental changes and melting ice have been recorded from the Patriot Hills Blue Ice Area at the periphery of the WAIS, which revealed a pause in the ice record beginning approximately 1,30,000 years ago, immediately prior to the Last Interglacial (LIG) period, 1,29,000-1,16,000 years ago.
Researchers have long speculated that melting of the WAIS may have contributed to global sea-level rise during the Last Interglacial period, however, there is no direct physical evidence to prove that claim. The pause in the ice record beginning approximately 1,30,000 years ago, prior to the LIG, suggests a substantial loss of ice mass which coincides with a well-documentated rise in ocean temperatures, suggesting that the ocean warming led to ice sheet loss. According to the research, the Antarctic contributed to a global sea-level rise of around 2-6 metres in the first 1,000 years of the LIG.
The Paris climate agreement is important because just last week researchers at the Esperanza base in the northern tip of the Antarctic peninsula recorded a temperature of 18.3-degree Celsius, the highest ever on record. As per media reports, World Meteorological Departement (WMD) spokeswoman Clare Nullis said that it wasn’t a figure that would be normal in Antarctica, not even in summers. According to reports, the temperature has beaten the previous record of 17.5-degree Celcius, which was recorded in 2015 and was a major setback at that time. Weeks ago, scientists made yet another alarming discovery when they recorded water temperatures at 2-degree Celsius in the usually frigid environment of Antarctica.
The Paris Agreement that came into effect in November 2016, is an agreement within the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) that requires signatories to keep the increase in global temperature to well below 2-degree Celsius above pre-industrial levels. As per reports, currently, 188 countries part of the UNFCCC have become a party to it, except for Iran and Turkey. In June 2017, United States President Donald Trump announced his intention to withdraw from the agreement, which was signed by the Obama administration in April 2016. On November 4, 2019, the Trump administration gave a formal notice of intention to withdraw, which takes 12 months to take effect. So, the earliest possible effective withdrawal date by the United States will be after November 4, 2020.