West Antarctica Warming Rapidly, Rising Sea Levels, Global Warming Caused by Human Activities [VIDEO]
West Antarctica thawing threatens to rise sea levels. Credit:Reuters
Thawing of West Antarctica could add to sea level rise from San Francisco to Shanghai because of warming almost as twice as fast as previously believed, according to Reuters.
A study showed on Sunday that annual average temperatures at the Byrd research station in West Antarctica had risen 2.4 degrees Celsius (4.3F) since the 1950's, which is one of the fastest gains on the planet and three times the global average in a changing climate.
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The ice sheet might be vulnerable to thawing which could raise sea levels by at least 11 feet.
"The western part of the ice sheet is experiencing nearly twice as much warming as previously thought," Ohio State University said in a statement of the study led by its geography professor David Bromwich.
The warming "raises further concerns about the future contribution of Antarctica to sea level rise," it said.
The global warming is caused by human activities, according to the United Nations panel of climate experts, and sea levels will rise by between 18 and 59 cms (7-24 inches) this century, and by more if a thaw of Greenland and Antarctica accelerates.
"The surprises keep coming," said Andrew J. Monaghan, a scientist at the National Center for Atmospheric Research in Boulder, Colo., who took part in the study, according to New York Times. "When you see this type of warming, I think it's alarming."
The temperatures have risen at West Antarticia as well as other parts of the northern hemisphere at fast rates
Reuters Environment Correspondent Alister Doyle wrote: "Several ice shelves - thick ice floating on the ocean and linked to land - have collapsed around the Antarctic Peninsula in recent years. Once ice shelves break up, glaciers pent up behind them can slide faster into the sea, raising water levels."
"The stakes would be much higher if a similar event occurred to an ice shelf restraining one of the enormous West Antarctic ice sheet glaciers," said Andrew Monaghan, a co-author at the U.S. National Center for Atmospheric Research.
Times.com gives some hope though for the rising sea levels.
"Fortunately, even though West Antarctica now seems to be one of the fast warming spots on the planet, it's still very, very, very cold, so the melting that's happening today remains minimal. That means major melting in the WAIS-and the major sea level rise that would go along with it-is still decades into the future, if not much longer. But as this new study shows, that day could come sooner than we think."
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