"East Antarctica's Wilkes Basin is like a bottle on a slant," said lead-author Matthias Mengel in a statement. "Once uncorked, it empties out."
A rim of ice currently holds back the largest region of marine ice on rocky ground in East Antarctica. Warming oceans could lead to loss of ice on the coast, while the air over Antarctica stays cold, the researchers say. If this rim is lost it could trigger sea-level rise of 300-400 centimeters (about 10-13 feet) the researchers report.
Sea level rise from Antarctica is projected to increase by 16 centimeters this century.