News

    Arctic Ice Melting Faster Than Predicted

    An iceberg melting off the coast of Ammasalik, Greenland (file photo)
    An iceberg melting off the coast of Ammasalik, Greenland (file photo)

    Multimedia

    Audio
    Rosanne Skirble

    As government officials from eight Arctic nations - the United States, Russia, Canada, Sweden, Finland, Denmark, Norway and Iceland -  prepare to meet in Greenland next week to discuss the challenges of climate change, a report released May 4, 2011 underscores the urgency of the Arctic Council meeting.  The study finds the Arctic's polar ice is melting at a much faster rate than previously thought.



    The report was released by the Arctic Monitoring and Assessment Program, the scientific arm of the 8-nation Arctic Council. It finds that the past six years - between 2005 and 2010 - were the warmest years recorded in the Arctic since measurements began in 1880.

    Gordon Hamilton is a leading glaciologist and professor at the University of Maine Climate Change Institute. He says the new assessment updates the U.N.’s Climate Change Panel’s 2007 report with data on Arctic conditions over the past five years.  

    "And so with our new understanding on how ice sheets are behaving and how they are responding to climate change we can say that the IPCC [UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change] estimate for sea level rise from 18 to 59 centimeters is a very large underestimate and we are looking at something probably double the upper end of the estimate. So we are expecting one meter of sea level rise by 2100," said Gordon Hamilton.

    Melting from Arctic glaciers, ocean ice and the Greenland ice sheet will make substantial contributions to that sea level rise, the report finds.  Hamilton says while the year 2100 may seem like a long way off, the new estimates can help policy makers address changes in coastal areas where more than half the world’s population lives.     

    "If you’re building coastal structures or if you are planning development in coastal zones, these are the types of human activity that take place over the course of decades and so we need to be making these decisions with the best sea level estimates in hand," he said.

    Hamilton is amazed at the rate of change he’s witnessed in polar regions.

    "In my field, glaciology, six years ago we didn’t think that ice sheets responded to climate change on a time scale any shorter than a few thousand years, whereas now we are seeing the big ice sheets in Greenland and west Antarctica respond in just a few months to triggers that are coming from the climate systems," said Hamilton.

    The extent and duration of snow cover have decreased throughout the Arctic, falling by 18 percent since 1966. Other accelerated changes, Hamilton says, include the rapid decline of sea ice.

    "A few years ago the projection was that the Arctic Ocean would be ice-free in the summers by the year 2080," he said. "Well, in the first few years of this decade there were some extraordinarily fast declines in Arctic sea ice."

    The report finds that the Arctic Ocean could become nearly ice-free in the summers within the next thirty to forty years. Hamilton says there is still time to act to slow down these changes by drastically reducing climate-changing carbon emissions, initiatives that he hopes the Arctic country ministers adopt when they meet next week in Greenland.    

    This forum has been closed.
    Comments
         
    There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Brexit Vote Plunges Global Markets Into Uncharted Territoryi
    X
    June 24, 2016 9:38 PM
    British voters plunged global markets into unknown territory after they voted Thursday to leave the European Union. The results of the Brexit vote, the term coined to describe the referendum, caught many off guard. Analysts say the resulting volatility could last for weeks, perhaps longer. Mil Arcega reports.
    Video

    Video Brexit Vote Plunges Global Markets Into Uncharted Territory

    British voters plunged global markets into unknown territory after they voted Thursday to leave the European Union. The results of the Brexit vote, the term coined to describe the referendum, caught many off guard. Analysts say the resulting volatility could last for weeks, perhaps longer. Mil Arcega reports.
    Video

    Video Orlando Shooting Changes Debate on Gun Control

    It’s been nearly two weeks since the largest mass shooting ever in the United States. Despite public calls for tighter gun control laws, Congress is at an impasse. Democratic lawmakers resorted to a 1960s civil rights tactic to portray their frustration. VOA’s Carolyn Presutti explains how the Orlando, Florida shooting is changing the debate.
    Video

    Video Tunisian Fishing Town Searches for Jobs, Local Development Solutions

    As the European Union tries to come to grips with its migrant crisis, some newcomers are leaving voluntarily. But those returning to their home countries face an uncertain future.  Five years after Tunisia's revolution, the tiny North African country is struggling with unrest, soaring unemployment and plummeting growth. From the southern Tunisian fishing town of Zarzis, Lisa Bryant takes a look for VOA at a search for local solutions.
    Video

    Video 'American Troops' in Russia Despite Tensions

    Historic battle re-enactment is a niche hobby with a fair number of adherents in Russia where past military victories are played-up by the Kremlin as a show of national strength. But, one group of World War II re-enactors in Moscow has the rare distinction of choosing to play western ally troops. VOA's Daniel Schearf explains.
    Video

    Video Experts: Very Few Killed in US Gun Violence Are Victims of Mass Shootings

    The deadly shooting at a Florida nightclub has reignited the debate in the U.S. over gun control. Although Congress doesn't provide government health agencies funds to study gun violence, public health experts say private research has helped them learn some things about the issue. VOA's Carol Pearson reports.
    Video

    Video Trump Unleashes Broadside Against Clinton to Try to Ease GOP Doubts

    Recent public opinion polls show Republican Donald Trump slipping behind Democrat Hillary Clinton in the presidential election matchup for November. Trump trails her both in fundraising and campaign organization, but he's intensifying his attacks on the former secretary of state. VOA National Correspondent Jim Malone reports.
    Video

    Video Muslim American Mayor Calls for Tolerance

    Syrian-born Mohamed Khairullah describes himself as "an American mayor who happens to be Muslim." As the three-term mayor of Prospect Park, New Jersey, he believes his town of 6,000 is an example of how ethnicity and religious beliefs should not determine a community's leadership. Ramon Taylor has this report from Prospect Park.
    Video

    Video Internal Rifts Over Syria Policy Could Be Headache for Next US President

    With the Obama administration showing little outward enthusiasm for adopting a more robust Syria policy, there is a strong likelihood that the internal discontent expressed by State Department employees will roll over to the next administration. VOA State Department correspondent Pam Dockins reports.
    Video

    Video Senegal to Park Colorful ‘Cars Rapide’ Permanently

    Brightly painted cars rapide are a hallmark of Dakar, offering residents a cheap way to get around the capital city since 1976. But the privately owned minibuses are scheduled to be parked for good in late 2018, as Ricci Shryock reports for VOA.
    Video

    Video Florida Gets $1 Million in Emergency Government Funding for Orlando

    The U.S. government has granted $1 million in emergency funding to the state of Florida to cover the costs linked to the June 12 massacre in Orlando. U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch announced the grant Tuesday in Orlando, where she met with survivors of the shooting attack that killed 49 people. Zlatica Hoke reports.
    Video

    Video How to Print Impossible Shapes with Metal

    3-D printing with metals is rapidly becoming more advanced. As printers become more affordable, the industry is partnering with universities to refine processes for manufacturing previously impossible things. A new 3-D printing lab aims to bring the new technology closer to everyday use. VOA's George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Big Somali Community in Minnesota Observes Muslim Religious Feast

    Ramadan is widely observed in the north central US state of Minnesota, which a large Muslim community calls home. VOA Somali service reporter Mohmud Masadde files this report from Minneapolis, the state's biggest city.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora