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Antarctica melting faster than expected

 Posted by on February 28, 2009
Feb 282009

By Marice Richter
Green Right Now

Scientists have new evidence of global warming and the perils it poses to millions of people around the world.

A study released this week by International Polar Year 2007-2008 reports that glaciers in Antarctica are melting faster than expected and the thaw is occurring in a much larger area than originally believed.

The melting icecaps are contributing to rising ocean levels that threaten communities in coastal areas worldwide.

The Pine Island Glacier, the biggest in Antarctica, has moved 40 percent faster toward the sea since the 1970s and Smith Glacier is moving 83 percent quicker than 15 years ago, according to International Polar Year scientist David Hik.

“The loss of ice is pretty spectacular,” Dr. Hik, a professor at the University of Alberta in Edmonton, Canada, told Bloomberg News. “The effects of warming are going to be global.

“What happens at the poles will influence all parts of the planet and it’s very evident that we can see rapid changes in sea level associated with changes in the Arctic and Antarctic,” Dr. Hik said.

A major study on global warming released by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change two years ago predicted a rise in sea levels of 7 to 23 inches by the end of the century. But the IPY study suggests that sea levels could actually rise about 4 to 8 inches above that.

The IPY study also found pools of carbon stored as methane in the melting polar permafrost;  the release of methane into the atmosphere contributes to global warming.

The IPY study was an effort by thousands of scientists from more than 60 countries to study Arctic and Antarctic conditions over the past two years.

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