The huge West Antarctic ice sheet is starting a slow glacial collapse that may be irreversible, two new studies show. The collapse of ice sheets started in the 90s and it does seem to be developing quicker than scientists had believed.

The melting of the West Antarctic Ice Sheet, a process that scientists confirm has already started, would increase the global sea level by up to 200 feet which eventually would force the evacuation of several harbor cities. The area of the Amundsen Sea contains an estimated 527,808 cu. miles (2.2 million cu. km) of ice, about 10% of Antarctica’s total land ice volume.

“It does seem to be happening quickly,” said University of Washington glaciologist Ian Joughin. “We really are witnessing the beginning stages.”

The ongoing collapse could also devastate global food supply, drowning vast areas of crop lands across the Middle East and Asia.

Two research teams who studied the Amundsen Sea region concluded that the melting process is inevitable and can accelerate even more in the future.

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