Sea levels rising twice as fast as predicted

Ice sheets in Greenland and Antarctica are melting rapidly

Sea levels are predicted to rise twice as fast as was forecast by the United Nations only two years ago.

UN scientists said that rapidly melting ice sheets in Greenland and Antarctica are likely to push up sea levels by a metre or more by 2100, swamping coastal cities and destorying the living space of 600 million people who live in deltas, low-lying areas and small island states.

Low-lying countries with increasing populations, such as Bangladesh, Burma and Egypt, could see large parts of their surface areas vanish. Experts in Bangladesh estimate that a one-metre rise in sea levels would swamp 17 per cent of the country’s land mass.

Even Britain could face real challenges in lower-lying areas along the east coast, from Lincolnshire to the Thames estuary, with a much greater risk of catastrophic ‘storm surges’ such as the great flood of 1953 that killed 307 people.

Yesterday’s urgent wake-up call to governments about global warming – telling them the data on which they are basing their official advice is flawed – came from four scientists from the US, Australia, France and Germany, who gave a press conference at a scientific meeting on climate change in Copenhagen, Denmark.

It is the accelerated melting of the vast, land-based ice sheets in Greenland and Antarctica, caused by rapidly rising temperatures at high latitudes, which is now speeding up the increase beyond anything previously forecast.

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