Sea levels likely to rise by 1.4 meters by 2100 as polar ice melts

December 1st, 2009 - 1:56 pm ICT by ANI  

London, December 1 (ANI): A major review of climate change in Antarctica has indicated that sea levels are likely to rise by about 1.4m (4ft 6in) globally by 2100 as polar ice melts.

According to BBC News, the review, conducted by the Scientific Committee on Antarctic Research (SCAR), said that warming seas are accelerating melting in the west of the continent.

The report, titled ‘Antarctic Climate Change and the Environment’, was written using contributions from 100 leading scientists in various disciplines, and reviewed by a further 200.

Ozone loss has cooled the region, shielding it from global warming, it said.

Rising temperatures in the Antarctic Peninsula are making life suitable for invasive species on land and sea, it added.

SCAR’s executive director Dr Colin Summerhayes said that it painted a picture of “the creeping global catastrophe that we face”.

“The temperature of the air is increasing, the temperature of the ocean is increasing, sea levels are rising - and the Sun appears to have very little influence on what we see,” he said.

Two years ago, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) projected that the global average sea level would probably rise by 28-43 cm (11-16in) by the end of the century.

But, it acknowledged this figure was almost certainly too low, because it was impossible to model “ice dynamics” - the acceleration in ice melting projected to occur as air and water temperatures rise.

Launching the SCAR report in London, lead editor John Turner from the British Antarctic Survey (BAS) suggested that observations on the ground had changed that picture, especially in parts of the West Antarctic ice sheet.

“Warmer water is getting under the edges of the West Antarctic ice sheet and accelerating the flow of ice into the ocean,” he said.

By the end of the century, the sheet will probably have lost enough ice alone to raise sea levels globally by “tens of centimeters,” he added.

The remainder of the projected rise would come from melting of the Greenland cap, melting of mountain glaciers in the Himalayas and Andes, and the expansion of seawater as it warms.

The SCAR team predicts that doubling of greenhouse gas concentrations in the atmosphere would warm the continent by 3-4 degree Celsius.

The majority of Antarctica is so cold that a rise of this magnitude in air temperature would have little impact.

But more warming of the oceans would speed ice loss still further, the report concluded. (ANI)

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