Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Antarctica Is Heating Up Even Faster Than Previously Thought


By Zack Beauchamp on Dec 24, 2012

Dangerous climate-change induced melting of Antartica’s ice may be happening even faster than we think, as a new study has found that Antarctica is warming far more quickly than scientists had previously thought. The study, published in the journal Natural Geoscience, reviewed a previously spotty dataset on Antarctic temperature, correcting several gaps. The New York Times summarizes the results:

A paper released Sunday by the journal Nature Geoscience reports that the temperature at a research station in the middle of West Antarctica has warmed by 4.4 degrees Fahrenheit since 1958. That is roughly twice as much as scientists previously thought and three times the overall rate of global warming, making central West Antarctica one of the fastest-warming regions on earth. …


Melting at this scale in West Antarctica, the focus of this study, could potentially be catastrophic: not only would it have “knock-on effects” on the larger East Antarctic Ice Sheet, but it could potentially speed up worldwide warming by releasing massive CO2 deposits trapped under Antarctica.

Sea-level rise is one of the most dangerous potential consequences of climate change. In some projections, it could “put hundreds coastal cities around the globe entirely under water.” One study found that the even the best case scenario would “hit low lying coastal areas housing one in ten humans on the planet hard.” Sea-level rise will also greatly exacerbate the damage done by megastorms like Sandy and Katrina, themselves already intensified by warmer ocean temperatures.

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