In 2015, governments from across the world committed to the Paris Agreement and its goal of limiting global warming to 1.5C or 2C. Yet, the emissions pledges that those governments have since proposed put the world on course for as much as 3C of warming.

Such a mismatch between ambition and action could have huge ramifications for the world, not least for global sea level rise, which is already accelerating.

In a new modelling study, published in Nature, we show what the difference between meeting the Paris goals and overshooting them could mean for the melting ice of Antarctica.

At 1.5C or 2C, we find that Antarctic ice melt continues at similar levels as today – albeit a contribution that would continue for centuries.

However, at 3C, we find significant risks of rapid, irreversible sea level rise before 2100. Our model incorporates glaciological processes observed over the past several decades, including the impact of ice shelf loss on outlet glaciers and subsequent marine-based “ice cliff” collapse.

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