Feeds

Aussie boffins warn on glacial melting

Invest in wellie boots

High performance access to file storage

Australian scientists are warning that the planet is nearing a tipping point beyond which polar melting will be irreversible in some areas, triggering a rise in sea levels of metres.

John Church, a marine scientist at the Australian CSIRO Marine and Atmospheric Research, told news agency Reuters: "Observations are at the very upper edge of the projections [in the IPCC report published in February]. I feel we are uncomfortably close to the threshold."

He argues that ice-sheet melting in Greenland and parts of Antarctica is close to being irreversible, and that warming in the Antarctic peninsula is happening faster than anywhere else on Earth.

In 2002, a 500 billion tonne iceberg - about the size of Luxembourg - broke off from the Larsen ice shelf. While this scale of break up has not been repeated yet, the reduction in the ice around the continent is making it possible for glaciers to flow into the sea much faster.

Elsewhere, the glaciers are actually retreating. One thousand kilometres to the north of the Antarctic continent, glaciers at Heard Island are in massive retreat.

And while western Antarctica has always been regarded as particularly vulnerable, new data from the much colder and higher eastern parts of the continent shows that the Tottenham Glacier's height has fallen by 10 metres over the last 16 years.

Church notes that the last time the planet was as warm as it is expected to be by the end of this century, sea levels were between four and six metres higher than they are today. The ice sheets of western Antarctica hold enough water to account for roughly that kind of sea level rise.

Meanwhile, about 100 million people live within a metre of today's sea level. Steve Rintoul, Church's colleague at CSIRO, told Reuters "Those people will need to go somewhere." ®

High performance access to file storage

More from The Register

next story
Red-faced LOHAN team 'fesses up in blown SPEARS fuse fiasco
Standing in the corner, big pointy 'D' hats
KILLER SPONGES menacing California coastline
Surfers are safe, crustaceans less so
LOHAN's Punch and Judy show relaunches Thursday
Weather looking good for second pop at test flights
Discovery time for 200m WONDER MATERIALS shaved from 4 MILLENNIA... to 4 years
Alloy, Alloy: Boffins in speed-classification breakthrough
Curiosity finds not-very-Australian-shaped rock on Mars
File under 'messianic pastries' and move on, people
Elon Musk's LEAKY THRUSTER gas stalls Space Station supply run
Helium seeps from Falcon 9 first stage, delays new legs for NASA robonaut
Top Secret US payload launched into space successfully
Clandestine NRO spacecraft sets off on its unknown mission
Get your MOON GEAR: Auction to feature Space Race memorabilia
Keepsakes from early NASA, Soviet programs up for bids
New FEMTO-MOON sighted BIRTHING from Saturn's RING
Icy 'Peggy' looks to be leaving the outer rings
prev story

Whitepapers

Securing web applications made simple and scalable
In this whitepaper learn how automated security testing can provide a simple and scalable way to protect your web applications.
Five 3D headsets to be won!
We were so impressed by the Durovis Dive headset we’ve asked the company to give some away to Reg readers.
HP ArcSight ESM solution helps Finansbank
Based on their experience using HP ArcSight Enterprise Security Manager for IT security operations, Finansbank moved to HP ArcSight ESM for fraud management.
The benefits of software based PBX
Why you should break free from your proprietary PBX and how to leverage your existing server hardware.
Mobile application security study
Download this report to see the alarming realities regarding the sheer number of applications vulnerable to attack, as well as the most common and easily addressable vulnerability errors.