Le point de non-retour de l'Antarctique

POTSDAM – Des observations récentes par satellite ont confirmé l'exactitude de deux simulations informatiques indépendantes qui montrent que la calotte glaciaire de l'Inlandsis Ouest-Antarctique est maintenant entrée dans un état d'effondrement impossible à inverser. La planète est entrée dans une nouvelle ère de changement climatique aux conséquences irréversibles. La seule question est maintenant de savoir si nous allons agir suffisamment pour empêcher des développements similaires de se produire ailleurs sur la planète.

Ce que montrent les derniers résultats, c'est que des éléments essentiels du système climatique de la planète, bien qu'énormes en taille, sont si fragiles qu'ils peuvent être irrémédiablement perturbés par l'activité humaine. C'est inévitable : plus la planète se réchauffe, plus d'autres parties de l'Antarctique risquent d'atteindre un point de basculement similaire. En fait nous savons maintenant que le bassin de Wilkes dans l'Inlandsis Est-Antarctique, aussi grand ou même plus grand que la calotte glaciaire de l'Ouest, pourrait être tout aussi vulnérable.

Il n'y a pas beaucoup d'activités humaines dont l'impact peut être raisonnablement prédit des décennies, des siècles, voire des millénaires à l'avance. Les retombées de déchets nucléaires en sont une. La contribution de l'homme au réchauffement climatique par les émissions de gaz à effet de serre à partir de combustibles fossiles, et leur impact sur l'élévation du niveau de la mer, en est un autre.

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