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Re: Antarctic Ice Melts as Sea Warms

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  • Pat Neuman
    We know a lot more about the ice sheets than we did before, Payne said. We know change is happening and that it is rapid. What we don t know is why or what
    Message 1 of 1 , Oct 18, 2005
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      "We know a lot more about the ice sheets than we did before," Payne
      said. "We know change is happening and that it is rapid. What we
      don't know is why or what is causing it -- what proportion is
      anthropomorphic."

      http://www.enn.com/today.html?id=9047

      --------------------------

      Probably greater than 98%.

      Pat N
      --------------------------

      Antarctic Ice Melts as Sea Warms but Cause Unknown

      October 18, 2005 — By Jeremy Lovell, Reuters
      LONDON — Antarctica is melting, adding to the inexorable rise in
      global sea levels, endangering millions of lives and whole
      economies, leading scientists said on Monday.

      But while the effect is well known after years of monitoring from
      land and space, the reasons for the sea warming are not.

      "We know sea levels will rise. We need to know by how much and why,"
      Anthony Payne of the University of Bristol and one of the organisers
      of a major scientific conference in London, told Reuters on the
      sidelines of the meeting at the Royal Society, Britain's national
      academy of science.

      "This has implications for the whole world -- most people and
      industries are in coastal areas," he added.

      Payne said there was a net loss of mass in Antarctica as the
      snowfall in the centre of the frigid landmass was more than offset
      by sea ice melting around the edges.

      The key was to find out whether the process was accelerating, or
      whether it might stabilise or even reverse.

      And the important factor was understanding the complex interaction
      between ocean and wind currents and how much -- if any -- of the
      warming of the seas was due to mankind's contribution to global
      warming.

      "We know a lot more about the ice sheets than we did before," Payne
      said. "We know change is happening and that it is rapid. What we
      don't know is why or what is causing it -- what proportion is
      anthropomorphic."

      Scientists calculate that average world temperatures -- which have
      already risen by 0.6 degrees Celsius (1.1 Fahrenheit) since 1900 --
      could rise by at least two more degrees this century, due in large
      part to greenhouse gases from burning fossil fuels.

      HIGH ECONOMIC COST

      Bob Bindschadler, a glaciologist from U.S. space agency NASA, said
      the West Antarctic ice sheet was reducing -- albeit patchily -- but
      that if it all melted it would raise global sea levels by 6 metres.

      Putting it in context he said that a 1-metre rise in sea levels
      would cost the United States alone $400 billion -- roughly twice the
      estimated cost of the destruction wrought by hurricane Katrina in
      New Orleans last month.

      "We don't want to have too many New Orleans," he told the start of
      the two-day conference that will pool all Antarctic knowledge and
      help shape the fourth assessment report of the Intergovernmental
      Panel on Climate Change that is due in 2007.

      Eric Rignot, a fellow NASA scientist, said marine ice on the world's
      coldest continent was in general retreat due to rising sea
      temperatures.

      "The Antarctic ice sheet is changing at a faster rate than
      anticipated. The coastal changes are the most significant, with the
      potential to reach far inland," he told an audience of his peers
      from around the world.

      While the vast East Antarctic ice sheet, which is more than double
      the size of its western neighbour, was more or less stable except at
      the coastal fringes, there was no guarantee it would remain so.

      "The East Antarctic ice sheet is not immune to change," he said,
      noting that more than one third of the annual 1.8 millimetre rise in
      global sea levels came from Antarctica.

      Source: Reuters

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