The New Scientist reports that:
The edges of the Antarctic ice sheets are slipping into the ocean at an
unprecedented rate, raising fears of a global surge in sea levels,
glaciologists warned on Monday.
The findings confound predictions made just four years ago, by the
UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), that Antarctica
would not contribute significantly to sea level rise in the 21st century.
one area, around the Amundsen Sea in West Antarctica, glaciers are
dumping more than 110 cubic kilometres of ice into the ocean each year,
Eric Rignot of NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in California, US, told
a meeting at the Royal Society in London, UK. This loss, which is
increasing each year, is many times faster than the ice can be replaced
by snowfall inland, he says.
Antarctic glaciers are much bigger than those in warmer climates.
They are up to a kilometre thick, tens of kilometres wide and hundreds
of kilometres long. Connected to inland ice tributaries, they drain the
continent’s ice caps, which are the largest stores of frozen water on
many places, the glaciologists reported that the recent acceleration in
glacier flows has been triggered by the break-up of a series of
floating ice shelves at the continent’s edge. These shelves acted like
a cork in a bottle, holding back the glaciers.
The Guardian also reports on an article in Science (not available without a login) that scientists using new techniques for analyzing satellite images of the Amazon Rainforest have concluded that the rate of destruction of the Amazon is twice what we had estimated. They were able to identify the areas where single or several high value trees were pulled out resulting in increased drying in that area and the attendent destruction around the tree.