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sydney alternative media - non-profit community independent trustworthy
Thursday, 18 January 2007
Greenland is melting
Mood:  sad
Topic: globalWarming

http://www.nytimes.com/2007/01/16/science/earth/16gree.html?_r=2&ref=science&oref=slogin&oref=slogin

The Warming of Greenland 16th January 2007

.........

"All over Greenland and the Arctic, rising temperatures are not simply melting ice; they are changing the very geography of coastlines. Nunataks — “lonely mountains” in Inuit — that were encased in the margins of Greenland’s ice sheet are being freed of their age-old bonds, exposing a new chain of islands, and a new opportunity for Arctic explorers to write their names on the landscape."

.....

" Carl Egede Boggild, a professor of snow-and-ice physics at the University Center of Svalbard, said Greenland could be losing more than 80 cubic miles of ice per year.

“That corresponds to three times the volume of all the glaciers in the Alps,” Dr. Boggild said. “If you lose that much volume you’d definitely see new islands appear.”

....

"There is no consensus on how much Greenland’s ice will melt in the near future, Dr. Alley said, and no computer model that can accurately predict the future of the ice sheet. Yet given the acceleration of tidewater-glacier melting, a sea-level rise of a foot or two in the coming decades is entirely possible, he said. That bodes ill for island nations and those who live near the coast.

“Even a foot rise is a pretty horrible scenario,” said Stephen P. Leatherman, director of the Laboratory for Coastal Research at Florida International University in Miami.

On low-lying and gently sloping land like coastal river deltas, a sea-level rise of just one foot would send water thousands of feet inland. Hundreds of millions of people worldwide make their homes in such deltas; virtually all of coastal Bangladesh lies in the delta of the Ganges River. Over the long term, much larger sea-level rises would render the world’s coastlines unrecognizable, creating a whole new series of islands.

“Here in Miami,” Dr. Leatherman said, “we’re going to have an ocean on both sides of us.”

Such ominous implications are not lost on Mr. Schmitt, who says he hopes that the island he discovered in Greenland in September will become an international symbol of the effects of climate change. Mr. Schmitt, who speaks Inuit, has provisionally named it Uunartoq Qeqertoq: the warming island.

Global warming has profoundly altered the nature of polar exploration, said Mr. Schmitt, who in 40 years has logged more than 100 Arctic expeditions. Routes once pioneered on a dogsled are routinely paddled in a kayak now; many features, like the Ward Hunt Ice Shelf in Greenland’s northwest, have disappeared for good.

“There is a dark side to this,” he said about the new island. “We felt the exhilaration of discovery. We were exploring something new. But of course, there was also something scary about what we did there. We were looking in the face of these changes, and all of us were thinking of the dire consequences.”


Posted by editor at 3:03 PM EADT
Updated: Thursday, 8 February 2007 8:13 AM EADT

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