According to a new study, current national climate targets are so weak that even with them, melting glaciers and ice sheets are set to cause double the rate of sea-level rise as they would if countries met their Paris Agreement targets. 

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Sophie Nowicki, a professor at the University of Buffalo and a co-author of the Nature study, says, “Greenland is really sensitive to atmospheric changes, and so basically in a warmer world, you get more melting along the surface of the ice sheet. In Antarctica, it’s very complex because a warmer world could mean more snowfall, but it could also mean more melt at the side of the ice sheet.”

On a 3°C pathway, “resulting ice loss would be irreversible on multi-century timescales, even if atmospheric temperatures return to preindustrial-like values,” DeConto and co-authors wrote. Warming of 1.5°C to 2°C “would have much less impact on low-lying coastlines, islands, and population centres, pointing to the importance of ambitious mitigation.”

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