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A new study by the Scientific Committee on Antarctic Research (SCAR) finds that forecasts from two years ago no longer stand and that, if current temperature increases continue at the present rate, sea levels will rise 4.5 feet (1.4 meters) by 2100. That figure is double previous estimates and puts major cities like London, New York, Calcutta, Dhaka, and Shanghai in peril, along with destroying island nations such as the Maldives and Tuvalu.
The report documents accelerated melting of polar ice caps in western Antarctica caused by rapidly warming oceans and invasive species that are now inhabiting both land and sea on the Antarctic Peninsula which has warmed some 3C in the past 50 years. Over 100 scientists from a variety of specialties contributed findings, with a review by another 200 experts.
Dr. Colin Summerhayes, SCAR's executive director, described "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.”
Thirty-five of the world’s top climate research institutions comprise SCAR and lent their analyses to the Antarctic Climate Change and Climate report. The 2007 predictions were made by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) speculating an average global sea level rise of 11-16 inches (28-43 cm) by the coming centennial. At the time, the IPCC admitted their estimations were likely very conservative due to the impossibility of “ice dynamics.”
The Antarctic ice sheet is only one of the contributors. Melting of the Greenland cap, along with glaciers in the Himalayas and Andes also factor in, as does the expansion of warmer sea waters.
Attendees of next week's Copenhagen summit will be engaged in setting a target temperature rise of 2C, but even that could cause ocean levels to rise about 1.5 feet (50 cm). IPCC chair Dr. Rajendra Pachauri thinks a limit of 1.5C is a better goal.