Polar thaw is much faster than feared
Published 26/12/2012 | 05:00
Temperatures in the western part of Antarctica are rising almost twice as fast as previously believed, adding to fears that continued thaws are causing sea levels to rise, according to comprehensive research published this week.
In a discovery that raises new concerns about the effects of climate change on the South Pole, the average annual temperature in the region has risen by 2.4C since the 1950s, three times faster than the average around the world.
The unexpected jump was discovered after David Bromwich, professor of Geography at Ohio State University, led a research team to the previously uninhabited Byrd Research Centre 700 miles from the South Pole in the heart of West Antarctica.
Several ice shelves have already collapsed around the Artic Peninsula, just to the north of the Byrd Research Centre. Once these shelves break up, glaciers trapped behind them can slide faster into the sea.
The region contains enough ice to raise sea levels by at least 3.3 metres if it all melted, a process that would likely take centuries. (© Independent News Service)