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A rapidly disappearing section of the West Antarctic Ice Sheet appears to be on an unstoppable path to complete meltdown. The glaciers contain enough ice to raise global sea level by 4 feet. The vast glaciers of western Antarctica are shrinking and losing ice to the sea at a runaway pace and have almost certainly "passed the point of no return," according to new work by two separate teams of scientists. The likely result: a rise in global sea levels of four feet or more in the coming centuries, says research made public Monday by scientists at the University of Washington, the University of California-Irvine and NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory. "It really is an amazingly distressing situation," says Pennsylvania State University glaciologist Sridhar Anandakrishnan, who was not affiliated with either study.
Credit: NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory