Most of the focus regarding Earth's rising sea level has been on the Arctic Ocean, where ice in the North Pole has been melting rapidly for decades. But now there's even worse news: in the South Pole, Antarctica is beginning to melt and the results will be catastrophic.

According to papers scheduled to be published this week in two different scientific journals, large portions of an ice sheet in west Antarctica have started to melt, kicking off a process that could raise our oceans by over 10 feet in the next several hundred years. What would that do to the Earth? Well, make sure your great-great-great-great grandkids aren't planning on living in Miami.

The source of the melting ice is believed to be warm water being pushed into the South Pole by sweeping winds that has made its up to the surface. The papers are cautious in appropriating blame—Antarctica may be melting because of the effects of global warming, or natural factors, or some combination—but the language used by scientists to describe the net result is severe.

"It shook me a little bit," said one Penn State climate scientists quoted by the New York Times. A NASA scientist seemed to be more in disbelief: "This is really happening."

[image via Getty]