The collapse of the West Antarctica ice sheet has already started, study suggests
Image: NASA

Two groups of scientists reported this week that a large section of the West Antarctica ice sheet has begun falling apart, and its continued melting seems unavoidable.

If the findings are confirmed, it's likely that this will destabilise the neighbouring ice sheet, resulting in unavoidable sea level rise of three metres or more.

The studies were published separately in Science and Geophysical Research Letters, and both teams came to a similar conclusion through different methods, which suggests the results are pretty legitimate.

The scientists said that global warming caused by human activity has contributed to this collapse, but there may be other factors involved, The New York Times reports.

If there's any remotely positive news to take from the research, it's that sea level rise seems likely to continue relatively slowly for the rest of this century. But then it's set to soar rapidly, throwing the world into crisis (sorry kids).

Thomas P. Wagner, who runs NASA's polar ice programs, said in an interview: “This is really happening … There’s nothing to stop it now. But you are still limited by the physics of how fast the ice can flow.”