April 9, 2009

Scientists Urge Action Over Disappearing Ice Shelves

U.S. and British government researchers announced on Friday that climate change is quickly shrinking one Antarctic ice shelf, while another is disappearing and glaciers are melting faster than climate scientists originally predicted, Reuters reported.

Scientists noted that the Wordie Ice Shelf, which has been disintegrating since the 1960s, is gone and the northern part of the Larsen Ice Shelf no longer exists.

Since 1986, over 3,200 square miles have broken off from the Larsen shelf.

U.S. Interior Secretary Ken Salazar said in a statement: "The rapid retreat of glaciers there demonstrates once again the profound effects our planet is already experiencing -- more rapidly than previously known -- as a consequence of climate change."

Meanwhile, USGS glaciologist Jane Ferrigno, who led the Antarctica study, called the significant glacier retreat a "wakeup call" that change is happening and scientists need to be prepared.

"Antarctica is of special interest because it holds an estimated 91 percent of the Earth's glacier volume, and change anywhere in the ice sheet poses significant hazards to society," she said in a statement.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration revealed in another report published in the journal Geophysical Letters, that based on new computer analyses and recent ice measurements, Arctic ice is melting much more rapidly than expected.

World atmospheric temperature is projected to rise by between 35.2 and 39.2 degrees Fahrenheit due to emissions of greenhouse gases that could bring floods, droughts, heat waves and more powerful storms, according to the U.N. Climate Panel.

Experts say overall ocean levels and swamp low-lying areas tend to rise as glaciers and ice sheets melt.

Image Courtesy British Antarctic Survey


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