Melting Antarctic ice to feed major sea rise
Tuesday, 01 December 2009 10:10
Sea levels are likely to rise by about 1.4m (4ft 6in) globally by 2100 as polar ice melts, according to a major review of climate change in Antarctica.
Conducted by the Scientific Committee on Antarctic Research (SCAR), it says that warming seas are accelerating melting in the west of the continent.
Ozone loss has cooled the region, it says, shielding it from global warming.
Rising temperatures in the Antarctic Peninsula are making life suitable for invasive species on land and sea.
The report - Antarctic Climate Change and the Environment - was written using contributions from 100 leading scientists in various disciplines, and reviewed by a further 200.
SCAR's executive director Dr Colin Summerhayes said it painted a picture of "the creeping global catastrophe that we face".
"The temperature of the air is increasing, the temperature of the ocean is increasing, sea levels are rising - and the Sun appears to have very little influence on what we see," he said.
SCAR's report comes 50 years to the day after the Antarctic Treaty, the international agreement regulating use of the territory, was opened for signing, and a week before the opening of the potentially seminal UN climate summit in Copenhagen.
Two years ago, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) projected that the global average sea level would probably rise by 28-43 cm (11-16in) by the end of the century.
But it acknowledged this figure was almost certainly too low, because it was impossible to model "ice dynamics" - the acceleration in ice melting projected to occur as air and water temperatures rise.
Launching the SCAR report in London, lead editor John Turner from the British Antarctic Survey (BAS) suggested that observations on the ground had changed that picture, especially in parts of the West Antarctic ice sheet. (Source:BBC)
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