A new study led by an Australian research team is sounding the alarm on potentially faster sea level rises. What’s caused the new stance? Researchers say climate models have not taken into account strong westerly winds that will accelerate melting in Antarctica’s ice sheet.

Recent studies have suggested the massive ice sheets in western Antarctica have started an irreversible melting that will ultimately lead to sea levels rises as high as 3 meters. Don’t worry. Your beach getaway is safe, for now.

The Australian team says the strong western winds will impact the fragile balance of warm and cold waters near the western ice sheets.

“It’s the first time that I looked at my science and thought, ‘Oh my god, that is very concerning’!”, said Paul Spence, an Oceanographer at the University of NSW’s Climate Change Research Centre. “You hope it’s wrong and you hope it doesn’t happen.”

“If you were buying land in Australia and wanting to pass it down to your kids or your grandchildren, I suggest it’s a couple of meters above sea-level,” Spence said.

What exactly does strong western winds mean for the ice sheet? It could push relatively warm water just offshore into the ice sheet which could lead to a 4 degree increase in temperatures just under the ice shelf.

“If you look at how sensitive the coastal ocean is to these changing winds, you could put a lot more heat under these ice shelves than people have previously thought,” Spence added.

Spence and his team’s study was published in the journal Geophysical Research Letters and was based on more than 30 models used by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.

This latest study is sure to shock the researching community. I would expect additional studies to be conducted to confirm these latest findings.

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