I first realized about 16 years ago that the loss of the Earth's most vulnerable ice sheets (West Antarctica, Greenland) was inevitable and irreversible. And so here it is.
The collapse of large parts of the ice sheet in West Antarctica appears to have begun and is almost certainly unstoppable, with global warming accelerating the pace of the disintegration, two groups of scientists reported Monday.
The finding, which had been feared by some scientists for decades, means that a rise in global sea level of at least 10 feet may now be inevitable. The rise may continue to be relatively slow for at least the next century or so, the scientists said, but sometime after that it will probably speed up so sharply as to become a crisis.
“This is really happening,” said Thomas P. Wagner, who runs NASA’s programs on polar ice and helped oversee some of the research. “There’s nothing to stop it now. But you are still limited by the physics of how fast the ice can flow.”
It will take several centuries for the "collapse" to play out, but the process will likely be complete a thousand years from now. Sea level will eventually rise about 4 meters (~13 feet) from this event alone.