Friday, May 29, 2009

Greenland sea level rise is big threat to U.S.?

What's Greenland got to do with good old Uncle Sam? Nothing at the moment but current rapid ice melting in Greenland could cause serious sea levels rise across the U.S. northeast coast in years to come. If Greenland continues its current melting trend by the end of this century sea level rise on northeast cost would be significantly bigger than for the rest of our planet, posing significant threat to major U.S. cities like New York and Boston.

So how big could this sea level rise be? Scientists say it could even rise by 12 to 20 inches more (half meter more) than other coastal areas because major northeastern cities are directly in the path of the greatest sea level rise. Such high sea level rise would of course cause extreme flooding but flooding would be only one of the problems. Such big sea level rise would also cause tremendous damage to environment because salty water from ocean would enter river deltas. This scenario would not only create huge loss in biodiversity but also major economic damage.

Greenland ice melting has already reached alarming level, and unless we do something about global warming this horror scenario will turn into reality by the end of this century. In the last ten years Greenland's ice-melt rate has been steadily growing by 7 percent each year, and this trend will continue to happen without major greenhouse gas cuts.

It still remains to be seen whether world leaders have learned something from science in the past couple of years. It will be really interesting to see how far is world ready to go to stop global warming and climate change. Many politicians still think they have all the time in the world to deal with global warming, and many believe that global warming isn't so serious as science warns us it is. Politics and environment do not get along quite often so I'm really not expecting miracles later this year in Copenhagen.

Lead author of this study was Aixie Hu, a scientist at the National Center for Atmospheric Research in Boulder, Colorado.

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