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Monday, February 25, 2008

Antarctic glaciers surge to ocean

Antarctic glaciers surge to ocean
UK scientists working in Antarctica have found some of the clearest evidence yet of instabilities in the ice of part of West Antarctica. If the trend continues, they say, it could lead to a significant rise in global sea level. The new evidence comes from a group of glaciers covering an area the size of Texas, in a remote and seldom visited part of West Antarctica. Throughout the 1990s, according to satellite measurements, the glacier was accelerating by around 1% a year. Julian Scott's sensational finding this season is that it now seems to have accelerated by 7% in a single season, sending more and more ice into the ocean. "The measurements from last season seem to show an incredible acceleration, a rate of up to 7%. That is far greater than the accelerations they were getting excited about in the 1990s."

Now there is evidence that Volcanic activity occurred there 2000 years ago, some climate skeptics have clutched at this to explain what is happening, what is more likely is that warmer ocean currents are flowing under Antarctica, at issue is the idea of a sudden and abrupt collapse – with ocean rises of 1.5meters being cited. Conventional wisdom states that things happen very slowly over thousands if not millions of years, that conventional wisdom is now open to be challenged.


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