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Alarm grows over big melt in Antarctica

July 6, 2009
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Alarm grows over big melt in Antarctica

Antarctica is shrinking more quickly than expected and the pace is increasing, a conference has been told.

Professor Peter Barrett of Victoria University’s Antarctic Research Centre summarised the latest findings at the Annual Antarctic Conference.

Recent satellite pictures showed the frozen continent was calving glaciers from its edges at a rate adding up to about 0.4mm of sea-level rise a year.

That might not sound like much, he said, but the rate of ice loss was increasing quickly – up 75 per cent since 1996.

The Antarctic ice sheet has been stable for a million years and until recently had seemed too large and too cold to be vulnerable.

But Dr Barrett said scientists now believed it could change significantly in a matter of decades. A new assessment adding up global ice loss from Greenland, Antarctica and other glaciers suggested sea levels would rise between 80cm and 2m by 2100, he said.

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