[DEBATE] : (Fwd) Climate change update: more melting ice
pbond at mail.ngo.za
Sat Dec 2 05:58:40 GMT 2006
November 29, 2006
Ross Ice Shelf could 'collapse quickly'
Scientists working in Antarctica fear the Ross Ice Shelf, an ice platform
the size of France, could collapse quickly and trigger a rapid rise in sea
A research team drilling in the frozen continent has recovered three million
years of climate history, New Zealand newspaper The Press reported today.
An analysis of sea floor samples near Scott Base suggested the Ross Ice
Shelf had collapsed before, probably suddenly.
Scientist Tim Naish said the sediment record gave crucial evidence about how
the Ross Ice Shelf would react to climate change.
"If the past is any indication of the future, then the ice shelf will
collapse," he told the newspaper.
"If the ice shelf goes, then what about the West Antarctic Ice Sheet? What
we've learnt from the Antarctic Peninsula is when once buttressing ice
sheets go, the glaciers feeding them move faster and that's the thing that
isn't so cheery."
Antarctica stores 90 per cent of the world's water, with the the West
Antarctic Ice Sheet holding an estimated 30 million cu km.
In January, British Antarctic Survey researchers predicted that its collapse
would make sea levels rise by at least 5m, with other estimates predicting a
rise of up to 17m.
Mr Naish, a sedimentologist with the Institute of Geological and Nuclear
Sciences, said the team was retrieving a detailed history of the ice shelf.
"We know from the Larsen Ice Shelf (which collapsed on the Antarctic
Peninsula in 2002) that they go extremely quickly," he said.
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