Friday, February 17, 2006

Glacier Melt Could Signal Faster Rise in Ocean Levels

from the WaPo:

By Shankar Vedantam
Washington Post Staff Writer
Friday, February 17, 2006; Page A01

Greenland's glaciers are melting into the sea twice as fast as previously believed, the result of a warming trend that renders obsolete predictions of how quickly Earth's oceans will rise over the next century, scientists said yesterday.

The new data come from satellite imagery and give fresh urgency to worries about the role of human activity in global warming. The Greenland data are mirrored by findings from Bolivia to the Himalayas, scientists said, noting that rising sea levels threaten widespread flooding and severe storm damage in low-lying areas worldwide.

This undated photo provided by the journal Science shows East Greenland icebergs. Large numbers of bergs are calved each year from the fast-flowing terminus of Kangerdlussuaq Glacier, East Greenland. Iceberg production is a major form of mass loss from ice sheets.

(AP Photo/ho/J.A. Dowdeswell, Science) (J.a.dowdeswell - AP)

The scientists said they do not yet understand the precise mechanism causing glaciers to flow and melt more rapidly, but they said the changes in Greenland were unambiguous -- and accelerating: In 1996, the amount of water produced by melting ice in Greenland was about 90 times the amount consumed by Los Angeles in a year. Last year, the melted ice amounted to 225 times the volume of water that city uses annually.

"We are witnessing enormous changes, and it will take some time before we understand how it happened, although it is clearly a result of warming around the glaciers," said Eric Rignot, a scientist at the California Institute of Technology's Jet Propulsion Laboratory.(more)

1 comment:

roger said...

looks like the new orleans levees will have to be even higher.