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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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Trump’s decision to block coronavirus aid to hard-hit states will cost 4 million jobs: analysis

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President Donald Trump's refusal to provide federal aid to states hit hard by the economic crisis sparked by the coronavirus pandemic would cost the country 4 million jobs, according to an analysis by Moody's Analytics.

Negotiations over the next phase of coronavirus relief have stalled as Trump attempts to circumvent Congress with unworkable and legally dubious executive orders that fall far short of the aid that would be included in any Congressional proposal. Though House Democrats already approved a $3 trillion relief bill including an extension on federal unemployment benefits and $1 trillion in aid to states and cities whose tax revenues evaporated amid coronavirus lockdowns, Trump and Senate Republicans have balked at both provisions.

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Greenland’s ice sheet has melted past the point of no return

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Greenland's ice sheet may have shrunk past the point of return, with the ice likely to melt away no matter how quickly the world reduces climate-warming emissions, new research suggests.

Scientists studied data on 234 glaciers across the Arctic territory spanning 34 years through 2018 and found that annual snowfall was no longer enough to replenish glaciers of the snow and ice being lost to summertime melting.

That melting is already causing global seas to rise about a millimeter on average per year. If all of Greenland's ice goes, the water released would push sea levels up by an average of 6 meters -- enough to swamp many coastal cities around the world. This process, however, would take decades.

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2020 Election

Trump’s campaign has plans to disrupt coverage of the Democratic convention: report

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According to a report from Politico, Donald Trump will be hitting the road next week where he will visit battleground states in an effort to steal headlines while the Democrats hold their national convention to select former Vice President Joe Biden as their presidential nominee.

With the physical convention set aside due to the coronavirus pandemic, the Democrats will hold a virtual convention that will feature a host of high-profile Democrats including former President Barack Obama and former First Lady Michelle Obama among others, and Trump's campaign wants to get the president out front of them and grab the limelight.

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