It seems every day is bringing distressing, new information about climate change, but that’s just the state of the world right now. The latest, saddest news comes from the West Antarctic Ice Sheet, which is melting into the sea and is past the point of being helped. “It really is an amazingly distressing situation,” says Pennsylvania State University glaciologist Sridhar Anandakrishnan told USA Today. “This is a huge part of West Antarctica, and it seems to have been kicked over the edge.”

This information is coming from two separate teams of scientists (from the University of Washington, the University of California-Irvine and NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory), who worked separately but came to the same conclusion: Melting glaciers may have reached the point of no return. “The retreat of ice in that area is unstoppable,” says study author Eric Rignot. He says the data points to ocean levels rising about four feet in the coming centuries. It confirms predictions made by John H. Mercer of the Ohio State University, who pointed to the West Antarctic Ice Sheet as being particularly vulnerable to the warming earth and said greenhouse gases posed “a threat of disaster.” His theories were widely mocked at the time, and he passed away in 1987, before he could see his research scientifically vindicated