Wednesday, July 8, 2009

New Studies Indicate Climate Change Occuring Faster Than Predicted

New studies indicate that the IPCC 2007 estimate that sea levels would rise by .2 to .6 cm by 2100 was too conservative. As scientists understand glacial melting better, a .5 to 1.4 meters rise by 2100 is more likely. The New Scientist has an indepth analysis of the revised studies. For example:

Meltwater fills any crevasses, widening and deepening the cracks until they reach all the way down to the base of the ice. This can have a dramatic effect on floating ice shelves. "Essentially, you are chopping up an ice shelf into a bunch of tall thin icebergs, like dominoes standing on their ends," says Bindschadler. "And they are not very stable standing that way." They fall over, and push their neighbours out to sea.

Climate change also increases wind speeds in the Antarctic which according to the New Scientist article, drives warm water to slowly melt glaciers on the shore from below. Scientists are beginning to better understand the non-linear factors of climate change. Higher temperatures not only raise sea level but also the rate of sea level increases. Hopefully, policymakers at the G-8 summit will understand the urgency.

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