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  • Susan Modikoane
    Not to overload this list with every article that comes across my screen, but this one from Monday really haunts me. It is especially of poignant interest in
    Message 1 of 1 , May 2, 2007
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      Not to overload this list with every article that comes across my screen, but this one from Monday really haunts me.  It is especially of poignant interest in the shadow of the really great information provided at the last presentation on the effects of global warming to the Houston area.
       
      Arctic ice cap melting 30 years ahead of forecast By Deborah Zabarenko,
      Environment Correspondent
      1 hour, 45 minutes ago
       
      WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The Arctic ice cap is melting much faster than expected
      and is now about 30 years ahead of predictions made by the Intergovernmental
      Panel on Climate Change, a U.S. ice expert said on Tuesday.
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      This means the ocean at the top of the world could be free or nearly free of
      summer ice by 2020
      , three decades sooner than the global panel's gloomiest
      forecast of 2050.
      No ice on the Arctic Ocean during summer would be a major spur to global
      warming, said Ted Scambos, a glaciologist at the National Snow and Ice Center in
      Colorado.
      "Right now ... the Arctic helps keep the Earth cool," Scambos said in a
      telephone interview. "Without that Arctic ice, or with much less of it, the
      Earth will warm much faster."
      That is because the ice reflects light and heat; when it is gone, the much
      darker land or sea will absorb more light and heat, making it more difficult for
      the planet to cool down, even in winter, he said.
      Scambos and co-authors of the study, published in the journal Geophysical
      Research Letters, used satellite data and visual confirmation of Arctic ice to
      reach their conclusions, a far different picture than that obtained from
      computer models used by the scientists of the intergovernmental panel.
      "The IPCC report was very careful, very thorough and cautious, so they erred on
      the side of what would certainly occur as opposed to what might occur," Scambos
      said in a telephone interview.
      ICE-FREE SUMMER
      The wide possibility of what might occur included a much later melt up north, or
      a much earlier one, Scambos said.
      "It appears we're on pace about 30 years earlier than expected to reach a state
      where we don't have sea ice or at least not very much in late summer in the
      Arctic Ocean," he said.
      He discounted the notion that the sharp warming trend in the Arctic might be due
      to natural climate cycles. "There aren't many periods in history that are this
      dramatic in terms of natural variability," Scambos said.
      He said he had no doubt that this was caused in large part by greenhouse gases
      in the atmosphere, which he said was the only thing capable of changing Earth on
      such a large scale over so many latitudes.
      Asked what could fix the problem -- the topic of a new report by the
      intergovernmental panel to be released on Friday in Bangkok -- Scambos said a
      large volcanic eruption might hold Arctic ice melting at bay for a few years.
      But he saw a continued warm-up as inevitable in the coming decades.
      "Long-term and for the next 50 years, I think even the new report will agree
      that we're in for quite a bit of warming," Scambos said.
      "We just barely now, I think, have enough time and enough collective will to be
      able to get through this century in good shape, but it means we have to start
      acting now and in a big way."


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