TS.4.6 Events with large impacts
Some large-scale climate events have the potential to cause very large impacts, especially after the 21st century.
Very large sea-level rises that would result from widespread deglaciation of Greenland and West Antarctic ice sheets imply major changes in coastlines and ecosystems, and inundation of low-lying areas, with the greatest effects in river deltas. Relocating populations, economic activity and infrastructure would be costly and challenging. There is medium confidence that at least partial deglaciation of the Greenland ice sheet, and possibly the West Antarctic ice sheet, would occur over a period of time ranging from centuries to millennia for a global average temperature increase of 1-4°C (relative to 1990-2000), causing a contribution to sea-level rise of 4-6 m or more. The complete melting of the Greenland ice sheet and the West Antarctic ice sheet would lead to a contribution to sea-level rise of up to 7 m and about 5 m, respectively [WGI AR4 6.4, 10.7; WGII AR4 19.3].
Based on climate model results, it is very unlikely that the Meridional Overturning Circulation (MOC) in the North Atlantic will undergo a large abrupt transition during the 21st century. Slowing of the MOC this century is very likely, but temperatures over the Atlantic and Europe are projected to increase nevertheless, due to global warming. Impacts of large-scale and persistent changes in the MOC are likely to include changes to marine ecosystem productivity, fisheries, ocean CO2 uptake, oceanic oxygen concentrations and terrestrial vegetation [WGI AR4 10.3, 10.7; WGII AR4 12.6, 19.3].