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Oceans could rise 1.6 metres by 2100: study

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PARIS (AFP) – Warming in the Arctic occurring at twice the global average is on track to lift sea levels by up to 1.6 metres (5.3 feet) by 2100, a far steeper jump than predicted a few years ago, a consortium of scientists reported Tuesday.

Melting ice and snow has accounted for 40 percent of recent increases in ocean levels and are likely to play an even larger role in future, according to the Oslo-based Arctic Monitoring and Assessment Project (AMAP).

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“Global sea level is projected to rise 0.9 to 1.6 metres (3.0 to 5.3 feet) by 2100, and the loss from Arctic glaciers, ice caps and the Greenland Ice Sheet will make a substantial contribution to this,” AMAP said in a report.

Even the low end of this range would have devastating consequences for coastal cities and densely-populated, low-lying deltas in Bangladesh, Vietnam, China and many other countries, scientists have warned.

Higher seas would literally cover some small island nations, ruin vast expanses of land used to grow food, and boost the intensity of deadly hurricanes and other extreme weather events.

In early 2007, the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) said the world’s oceans would creep up 18 to 59 centimetres (7 to 23 inches) by century’s end.

But the panel’s landmark report did not include the potential impact of melting ice, especially from the massive Greenland Ice Sheet, which alone holds enough frozen water to push up sea levels by at least five metres (16 feet).

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The new study shows that the past six years have been the warmest period ever recorded for the Arctic, and that summer temperatures were higher in the past few decades than at any time in the last 2,000 years.

“The changes that are emerging in the Arctic are very strong, dramatic even,” said Mark Serreze, director of the U.S. National Snow and Ice Data Center in Boulder, Colorado, and a contributor to the report.

“But this is not entirely a surprise. We have known for decades that, as climate change takes hold, it is the Arctic where you are going to see it first, and where it is going to be pronounced,” he said by phone.

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The report forecasts that the Arctic Ocean, within three or four decades, will likely become nearly ice free during the summer months.

Three of the last four years have seen polar sea ice shrinking to its smallest area since satellite images became available, with a record low in 2007 of 4.13 million square kilometres (1.56 million square miles).

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The report also highlights new evidence that changes in Arctic snow and ice conditions may actually be accelerating the warming process.

“The fact that highly reflective snow and ice surfaces are diminishing means that darker land or ocean surfaces are absorbing more of the sun’s energy, warming the Earth’s surface and the air above,” the researchers said.

Rather than being bounced back into space by white surfaces, in other words, the sun’s heat is trapped inside the atmosphere.

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The study identified eight of these so-called natural “feedback mechanisms” that have become both symptom and cause of climate change.

Rising average temperatures, for example, threaten to unlock long-frozen stores of carbon dioxide and methane — at least 20 times as potent a greenhouse gas as CO2 — from the region’s permafrost.

“The amount of carbon that is locked up in permafrost is equivalent to what is in the atmosphere today,” said Serreze. “The question is how much of it is going be released.”

Drawing from the research of several hundred climate scientists and glaciologists, the report comes ahead of a May 12 meeting in Greenland of foreign ministers from Arctic Council nations: Canada, Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway, Russia, Sweden and the United States.

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Founded in 1991, AMAP is now a working group of the Council.


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‘Devastating for Trump’: Former White House lawyer says president’s defense ‘has entirely collapsed’ with Sondland testimony

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Ambassador Gordon Sondland will present "devastating" testimony, as evidenced by leaked copies of his opening statement.

Sondland directly will implicate President Donald Trump for a "quid pro quo" in his opening testimony.

Neal Katyal, the former acting Solicitor General in the Obama administration, offered his analysis of the testimony on Wednesday.

Katyal's analysis offers the implications for Rudy Giuliani, Vice President Mike Pence and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, who Katyal suggests will need to be subpoenaed by House Democrats.

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Sondland says Ukrainians knew there was a quid pro quo for military aid — because he told them

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E.U. Ambassador Gordon Sondland's opening statement contains a blizzard of damning allegations about President Donald Trump and his immediate officials' conduct surrounding the withholding of foreign aid to Ukraine.

In particular, Sondland's statement directly contradicts a major talking point used by Republicans to defend the president: That there couldn't have been a quid pro quo to force the Ukrainians to dig up dirt on former Vice President Joe Biden, because the Ukrainians did not know the delay in military aid was linked to opening investigations.

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‘We followed the president’s orders’: Sondland leaves no wiggle room for Trump’s direct involvement in Ukraine scandal

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European Union ambassador Gordon Sondland will leave no wiggle room for President Donald Trump to deny his direct involvement in the Ukraine scandal in his bombshell opening statement.

As reported by the Daily Beast, Sondland will testify that he followed President Donald Trump's orders to work with personal attorney Rudy Giuliani on dealing with Ukraine, despite the fact that he was personally reluctant to do so.

"Secretary Perry, Ambassador Volker and I worked with Mr. Rudy Giuliani on Ukraine matters at the express direction of the President of the United States," the statement says. "We did not want to work with Mr. Giuliani. Simply put, we played the hand we were dealt. We all understood that if we refused to work with Mr. Giuliani, we would lose an important opportunity to cement relations between the United States and Ukraine. So we followed the President’s orders."

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