“A threat of disaster” in Antarctica

AntarcticaBritish glaciologist John H. Mercer publishes a report in Nature postulating that continued growth of fossil fuel use could lead to a runaway carbon dioxide greenhouse effect in Earth’s atmosphere, with the glaciers of western Antarctica particularly vulnerable to rising temperatures of both air and water. The glacial melting, Mercer says, could be rapid and catastrophic, leading to as much as a five-meter rise of global sea levels by 2028, putting “low-lying areas such as much of Florida and the Netherlands” underwater. Though initially treated as a “worst case scenario”, Mercer’s theory will gain traction as global ocean temperatures rise (and as glacial melting picks up speed in Antarctica) in the early 21st century, ultimately becoming the predominant theoretical timeline for sea level rise and gaining an informal name: the “John Mercer effect”.