Thursday, September 17, 2009

Greenland 'could melt faster than thought'

Perth Now (Australia): The Greenland icesheet responded to global warming over the past 10,000 years more quickly than thought, according to a study. As a result, a medium-sized temperature increase this century could cause the continent-sized ice block to start melting at an alarming rate, it suggests.

"It is entirely possible that a future temperature increase of a few degrees Celsius in Greenland will result in a icesheet mass loss and contribution to sea level rise larger than previously projected," it warns. Greenland contains enough water to raise sea levels by about seven metres. Even a far more modest increase would put major coastal cities under water and force hundreds of millions of people out of their homes.

Until recently, experts were confident that the planet's two icesheets - in Greenland and Antarctica - would remain largely stable over the coming centuries despite global warming. But more recent studies have cast doubt on this, showing the pace at which glaciers are sliding off from both icesheets into the oceans has picked up over recent decades….

The Greenland ice sheet viewed from a plane, shot by the incomparable polar photographer Hannes Grobe, Wikimedia Commons, under the Creative Commons Attribution ShareAlike 2.5 License

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