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Antarctica's ice to melt if world's total fossil fuel is burned

A new study has found that Antarctica's ice will melt if the world's deposits of coal, oil and natural gas are burned.

It will increase the level of the sea up by more than 160 feet, scientists reported, adding that half the melting could occur in as little as a thousand years and it will cause the ocean to rise by a foot per decade, which is around 10 times the rate at which it is rising now. According to researchers, it would create major chaos and would lead to rapid retreat of the population from the coastal cities across the world.

"To be blunt: If we burn it all, we melt it all," said Ricarda Winkelmann, a researcher at the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research in Germany and the lead author of a paper published in the journal Science Advances.

If the sea level would rise by 200 feet then it would put almost all of Florida, much of Louisiana and Texas, the entire East Coast of the United States, large parts of Britain, much of the European Plain, and huge parts of coastal Asia under water. The cities lost would include Miami, New Orleans, Houston, Washington, New York, Amsterdam, Stockholm, London, Paris, Berlin, Venice, Buenos Aires, Beijing, Shanghai, Sydney, Rome and Tokyo.

"This is humanity as a geologic force," said Ken Caldeira, a researcher at the Carnegie Institution for Science in Stanford, California, and another author of the paper. "We're not a subtle influence on the climate system -we are really hitting it with a hammer."

According to the researchers, about half the Antarctic ice sheet would melt in the first thousand years. "I didn't expect it would go so fast," Dr. Caldeira said."To melt all of Antarctica, I thought it would take something like 10,000 years."