New Studies Warn of Effects of Melting Polar Ice
Within the next 100 years, the growing human influence on earth's climate could lead to a long and irreversible rise in sea levels by eroding Earth's vast polar ice sheets, according to new observations and analysis by several teams of scientists.
One team, using computer models of climate and ice, found that by about 2100, average temperatures could be 4 degrees warmer than today and that over the coming centuries, the world's oceans could rise 13 to 20 feet — conditions last seen 129,000 years ago, between the last two ice ages.
The findings, being reported today in the journal Science, are consistent with other recent studies of melting and erosion at the poles. Many experts say there are still uncertainties about timing, extent and causes.
But Jonathan T. Overpeck of the University of Arizona, a lead author of one of the studies, said the new findings made a strong case for the danger of failing to curb emissions of carbon dioxide and other heat-trapping greenhouse gases.
"If we don't like the idea of flooding out New Orleans, major portions of South Florida, and many other valued parts of the coastal U.S., we will have to commit soon to a major effort to stop most emissions of carbon to the atmosphere," he said.Also see Climate Change
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