Earth on Fire: The Overheating Planet

Earth on Fire: The Overheating Planet


The reason some popular posts are tagged ‘no title’ is not because they have no title—they all do—but because the old Blogger embedded the title at the top of text, and the new software does not see that. You can see the titles in capitals at the start of each snippet. (It would be nice if Blogger introduced an upgrade program that could fix this little problem.)

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Saturday, 21 July 2007


A new University of Colorado at Boulder study (funded mainly by the National Science Foundation and NASA), reported in ScienceDaily, the ice-loss from glaciers and ice-caps is expected to cause more global sea rise this century than the massive Greenland and Antarctic ice-sheets.

The researchers concluded that glaciers and ice-caps are now contributing about 60% of the world's ice to the oceans and the rate has been markedly accelerating in the past decade, said Emeritus Professor Mark Meier of CU-Boulder's Institute of Arctic and Alpine Research, the lead author of the study. The contribution is about 415 cubic kilometres of ice annually--nearly the volume of water in Lake Erie--and is rising by about 12.5 cubic kilometres per year.

In contrast, the CU-Boulder team estimated that Greenland now contributes about 28% of the total global sea rise from ice-loss and Antarctica about 12%. Greenland is not expected to catch up to glaciers and ice-caps in terms of sea level rise contributions until the end of the century, according to the study.

The team estimated that the accelerating melt of glaciers and ice-caps could add 10-24cm of sea-level rise globally by 2100. That does not include the expansion of warming ocean water, which could double those numbers, to 20-48cm. A 30cm sea-level rise typically causes a shoreline retreat of 30 metres or more, and about 100 million people now live within a metre of sea level.

If the sea-level rise generated by melting glaciers and ice-caps is 60% of the total the total rise anticipated by 2100 by this study is 1.6 times the above numbers--i.e., up to 32-77cm. But the expected temperature-increase used in this study is not given. If it was only the IPCCC's modest figure, the change in sea-levels will obviously be far greater--even several times as much. Add what floods and storm-surges can contribute, and a very grim prospect is in store for all coastal cities and their ports and airports, and for low-lying countries, and thus for vast numbers of people.