10m sea level rise (possible by 2300 with high emissions) picture of the Dubai area

Written by PhD student Penny Coulthard from SCENARIO DTP


“We cannot negotiate with the melting point of ice” state the International Cryosphere Climate Initiative (“ICCI”).

Today, a group of scientists and youths from low lying nations held a yellow line across the COP28 site in Dubai, showing how much of the city could be lost to melting ice and snow by 2300 if sea level rises by 10m.

The Cryosphere is the name given to regions of our globe covered by ice and snow, the fate of which is firmly linked to climate change.  Melting of the cryosphere would lead to many devastating impacts such as increased sea levels from disappearing glaciers and ice sheets and spiralling climate feedback cycles from lost sea ice and permafrost. This is becoming increasingly apparent as the temperatures at the coldest places on earth have already warmed by more than double that felt in the rest of the world.

The debate around the Cryosphere at COPs has been increasingly vocal in recent years, with the Ambition for Melting Ice Initiative (“AMI”) being formed at COP27 to show what happens if we don’t stick to a 1.5oC temperature increase. Their aim at COP28 is to create intergovernmental discussion to preserve the cryosphere. They are campaigning for an impactful statement on fossil fuels with a consensus around the need to phase them out and stick to 1.5oC as agreed at COP21 in Paris.

This is an ambitious target, but as Heidi Sevestre at the ICCI stand at COP 28 pointed out “There is no silver bullet for the cryosphere. Ice doesn’t care about geopolitics, only what is happening to global temperatures.”

The AMI is keen to use COP28 to highlight the importance of the Cryosphere to those countries for whom snow and ice may not be front of mind. The melting Cryosphere is a global issue that everyone should care about, regardless of where they live. Today’s yellow line in Dubai aims to illustrate this point.

In Alex Moores’s COPCAS blog “Nepal at risk of climate hazards despite pledges from global community”, he discussed how sticking to 1.5oC would mean a third of the glaciers being lost in Nepal, resulting in flooding, reduced capacity from hydroelectric power and reduced water availability, as well as a loss of culture and heritage.

What is clear is that we cannot afford to waste more time. As Heidi Sevestre said “Every tenth of a degree matters. We mustn’t let it slip to 2.0 oC then 2.5 oC.”

Let’s hope that the demonstration today helps to achieve this goal.