Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Obama Left With Little Time to Curb Global Warming

by Seth Borenstein for AP

WASHINGTON - When Bill Clinton took office in 1993, global warming was a slow-moving environmental problem that was easy to ignore. Now it is a ticking time bomb that President-elect Barack Obama can't avoid.

Since Clinton's inauguration, summer Arctic sea ice has lost the equivalent of Alaska, California and Texas. The 10 hottest years on record have occurred since Clinton's second inauguration. Global warming is accelerating. Time is close to running out, and Obama knows it.

"The time for delay is over; the time for denial is over," he said on Tuesday after meeting with former Vice President Al Gore, who won a Nobel Peace Prize for his work on global warming. "We all believe what the scientists have been telling us for years now that this is a matter of urgency and national security and it has to be dealt with in a serious way."

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Climate change experts lose faithin renewable technology

Specialists less optimistic that wind, solar and hydro power have 'high potential' to solve climate crisis, survey shows

* David Adam in Poznan
* guardian.co.uk, Tuesday December 9 2008 15.00 GMT

Support for renewable energy technology to fight global warming is weakening in the face of worldwide economic problems and the true scale of the carbon reductions required, a survey published today has suggested.

Figures presented at the UN climate talks in Poznan, Poland, show that climate experts have less faith in alternative energy than they did 12 months ago.

The survey shows less support for wind energy, solar power, biofuels, biomass and hydrogen energy as technologies with "high potential" to reduce carbon levels in the atmosphere over the next 25 years.

There was also less support for carbon capture and storage, new nuclear build, small-scale hydropower and natural gas stations as viable ways to hit targets for reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

FAQ on climate models

Here's a good summary from Real Climate

We discuss climate models a lot, and from the comments here and in other forums it's clear that there remains a great deal of confusion about what climate models do and how their results should be interpreted. This post is designed to be a FAQ for climate model questions - of which a few are already given. If you have comments or other questions, ask them as concisely as possible in the comment section and if they are of enough interest, we'll add them to the post so that we can have a resource for future discussions. (We would ask that you please focus on real questions that have real answers and, as always, avoid rhetorical excesses).

Monday, October 20, 2008

Climate change accelerating far beyond the IPCC forecast, WWF says

Climate change accelerating far beyond the IPCC forecast, WWF says

By Paul Eccleston
Last Updated: 12:01am BST 20/10/2008

Climate change is happening much faster than the world's best scientists predicted and will wreak havoc unless action is taken on a global scale, a new report warns.

# Deforestation: Paying nations not to cut down forests 'will fuel corruption'
# 'IPCC seriously underplays climate change'
# IPCC: Lawson wrong about climate change

Extreme weather events such as the hot summer of 2003, which caused an extra 35,000 deaths across southern Europe from heat stress and poor air quality, will happen more frequently.

Britain and the North Sea area will be hit more often by violent cyclones and sea level rise predictions will double to more than a metre putting vast coastal areas at risk from flooding.

The bleak report from WWF - formerly the World Wildlife Fund - also predicts crops failures and the collapse of eco systems on both land and sea.

Climate Change Is Faster and More Extreme' Than Feared

Climate change is happening much faster than the world's best scientists predicted and will wreak havoc unless action is taken on a global scale, a new report warns.

by Paul Eccleston for The Telegraph/UK

Extreme weather events' such as the hot summer of 2003, which caused an extra 35,000 deaths across southern Europe from heat stress and poor air quality, will happen more frequently.

Britain and the North Sea area will be hit more often by violent cyclones and the predicted rise in sea level will double to more than a metre, putting vast coastal areas at risk from flooding.

The bleak report from WWF - formerly the World Wildlife Fund - also predicts crops failures and the collapse of eco systems on both land and sea.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Britain could have first 'green Christmas'

Britain could soon be having a 'green Christmas' because of the dramatic effects of climate change.

Trees that used to shed their leaves in autumn are now often still in leaf in mid-December.

Environmental experts say it is only a matter of time before foliage remains until the end of the month.

Monday, October 13, 2008

Rising Seas and Powerful Storms Threaten Global Security

From Earth Policy Institute

Janet Larsen

Standing before the United Nations General Assembly in October 1987, Maumoon Abdul Gayoom, President of the Maldives, made an appeal representing “an endangered nation.” That year for the first time, “unusual high waves” in the Indian Ocean inundated a quarter of the urban area on the capital island of Male’, flooded farms, and washed away reclaimed land. Gayoom cited scientific evidence that human activities were releasing greenhouse gases that warm the planet, ultimately raising global sea level as glaciers melt and warmer water expands. The trouble extended beyond small islands; studies showed that rising seas would wreak havoc on the U.S. Gulf Coast, the Netherlands, and the river deltas of Egypt and Bangladesh.

Fast-forward through two decades of swelling seas and more powerful storms and the call has moved from the need to study global warming to the necessity of dramatic action to stabilize climate. With small island nations in peril, these days President Gayoom evokes the vision of a United Nations where “name plates are gone; seats are empty.” He does not speak alone: this fall, some 50 countries, including a number of small island nations along with Australia, Canada, New Zealand, and the European Union, are planning to put a resolution before the U.N. General Assembly requesting that the U.N. Security Council address “the threat posed by climate change to international peace and security.” As Ambassador Stuart Beck of Palau has asked, “Would any nation facing an invading army not do the same?”

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

The Methane Time Bomb

By Steve Conner for The Independent/UK

Arctic scientists discover new global warming threat as melting permafrost releases millions of tons of a gas 20 times more damaging than carbon dioxide

The first evidence that millions of tons of a greenhouse gas 20 times more potent than carbon dioxide is being released into the atmosphere from beneath the Arctic seabed has been discovered by scientists.

[Preliminary findings suggest that massive deposits of subsea methane are bubbling to the surface as the Arctic region becomes warmer and its ice retreats. (Photo: Alamy)]Preliminary findings suggest that massive deposits of subsea methane are bubbling to the surface as the Arctic region becomes warmer and its ice retreats. (Photo: Alamy)
The Independent has been passed details of preliminary findings suggesting that massive deposits of sub-sea methane are bubbling to the surface as the Arctic region becomes warmer and its ice retreats.

Underground stores of methane are important because scientists believe their sudden release has in the past been responsible for rapid increases in global temperatures, dramatic changes to the climate, and even the mass extinction of species. Scientists aboard a research ship that has sailed the entire length of Russia's northern coast have discovered intense concentrations of methane - sometimes at up to 100 times background levels - over several areas covering thousands of square miles of the Siberian continental shelf

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Scientists discover massive methane 'time bomb' under the Arctic seabed

From the Daily Mail

Global warming could rapidly accelerate as millions of tons of methane escape from beneath the Arctic seabed, scientists warned today.

Huge deposits of the greenhouse gas - 20 times more potent than carbon dioxide - are rising to the surface as the Arctic region heats up, according to preliminary findings.

Researchers found massive stores of sub-sea methane in several areas across thousands of square miles of the Siberian continental shelf and observed the gas bubbling up from the sea floor through 'chimneys', according to newspaper reports.

The researchers believe escaping sub-sea methane is connected to rises in temperatures in the Arctic region.

One of the expedition leaders, Orjan Gustafsson, of Stockholm University in Sweden, said researchers had found 'an extensive area of intense methane release'.

'At earlier sites we had found elevated levels of dissolved methane. Yesterday, for the first time, we documented a field where the release was so intense that the methane did not have time to dissolve into the seawater but was rising as methane bubbles to the sea surface.

Thursday, September 04, 2008

Arctic Melting Shows Global Warming Serious

by David Ljunggren for Reuters

OTTAWA - The incredibly rapid rate at which Canada's Arctic ice shelves are disappearing is an early indicator of the "very substantial changes" that global warming will impose on all mankind, a top scientist said on Wednesday.

Researchers announced late on Tuesday that the five ice shelves along Ellesmere Island in the Far North, which are more than 4,000 years old, had shrunk by 23 percent this summer alone.

The largest shelf is disintegrating and one of the smaller shelves, covering 19 square miles (55 square km), broke away entirely last month.

"Climate models indicate that the greatest changes, the most severe changes, will happen earliest in the highest northern latitudes," said Warwick Vincent, director of the Centre for Northern Studies at Laval University in Quebec.

"This will be the starting point for more substantial changes throughout the rest of the planet.... Our indicators are showing us exactly what the climate models predict," he told Reuters in an interview.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Warming climate threatens Alaska's vast forests

By Chris Baltimore for Reuters

KENAI NATIONAL WILDLIFE REFUGE, Alaska (Reuters) - Here in a 13,700-year-old peat bog, ecologist Ed Berg reaches into the moss and pulls out more evidence of the drastic changes afoot due to the Earth's warming climate.
Rooting through a handful of mossy duff, Berg, an ecologist for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, shows remains of shrubs and other plants taking hold over the last 30 years in a patch of ground that has long been too soggy for woody plants to grow.

In other words, the ground is drying out, and the peat bog is turning into forest.
"There has been a big change," Berg said. Core samples taken from the bog show moss nearly 22 feet under the ground, with no sign of trees or shrubs growing here for centuries, Berg said.
In 50 years, the bog could be covered by black spruce trees, he said.

Welcome to Alaska, where the blow of climate change will fall harder than on any other U.S. state.

Monday, July 21, 2008

Switching to coal could be fatal

By Chris Kraul for the LA Times

As the global price of oil and natural gas soars, some customers are taking a new look at other fuels — including coal. And countries such as China and India, whose demand is contributing to the price of petroleum, need even more energy. Besides petroleum products, they are buying vast amounts of coal, as well.

The worldwide demand for oil has its own set of environmental consequences — drilling in pristine areas where it previously was uneconomical and continued emission of greenhouse gases. But environmentalists warn that renewed reliance on coal takes the threat to another level.

“Growing coal use threatens nothing less than the end of civilization as we know it,” said Henry Henderson, the Chicago-based Midwest director of the Natural Resources Defense Council.

Wetlands could unleash "carbon bomb"

By Deborah Zabarenko for Reuters

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The world's wetlands, threatened by development, dehydration and climate change, could release a planet-warming "carbon bomb" if they are destroyed, ecological scientists said on Sunday.

Wetlands contain 771 billion tons of greenhouse gases, one-fifth of all the carbon on Earth and about the same amount of carbon as is now in the atmosphere, the scientists said before an international conference linking wetlands and global warming.

If all the wetlands on the planet released the carbon they hold, it would contribute powerfully to the climate-warming greenhouse effect, said Paulo Teixeira, coordinator of the Pantanal Regional Environment Program in Brazil.

Tuesday, July 01, 2008

Comments from the pros on a previous post

Why is this confusing? Because the term 'climate models' is interpreted very differently in the public sphere than it is in the field. For most of the public, it is 'climate models' that are used to project global warming into the future, or to estimate the planet's sensitivity to CO2. Thus a statement like the one above, and the headline that came from it are interpreted to mean that the estimates of sensitivity or of future warming are now in question. Yet this is completely misleading since neither climate sensitivity nor CO2 driven future warming will be at all affected by any revisions in ozone chemistry - mainly for the reason that most climate models don't consider ozone chemistry at all. Precisely zero of the IPCC AR4 model simulations (discussed here for instance) used an interactive ozone module in doing the projections into the future.

Sunday, June 29, 2008

Planet Heading Toward Climate ‘Tipping Point’

WASHINGTON - Little time remains for brokering a global deal on climate change, and a successful outcome depends on involvement and commitment by both developed and developing countries.

This message was driven home yesterday by renowned economist Sir Nicholas Stern, speaking at the Center for Global Development in Washington, D.C.

Stern stressed that by 2050 — the year often used as a target for reducing global emissions — 8 billion of the global population of 9 billion will be living in developing countries. But at least 70 percent of the greenhouse gases polluting the skies today are attributable to developed countries.

If the two sides cannot overcome current disagreements and work together to stop deforestation, develop new technologies for capturing carbon in the air, and set firm targets for reducing pollution, Stern warned, the “cost of inaction will be huge and entail major risks.”

Two years ago Stern produced a controversial report on the economics of climate change, commissioned by the British government, arguing that if governments failed to invest at least 1 percent of their GDP in mitigating global warming, the end result could be a global decline in GDP of as much as 20 percent.

Yesterday, Stern acknowledged that his earlier report probably underestimated the risks and the rapidity with which global warming is taking place, meaning that governments may need to commit 2 percent of GDP to mitigating climate change.

Stern’s warnings came just a day after two other blunt warnings on the impact of climate change.

On Wednesday, 16 national intelligence agencies acknowledged in a new National Intelligence Estimate (NIE) that global climate change presents a threat to U.S. national security — perhaps the most candid assessment to surface publicly in Washington during the Bush era.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

NASA warming scientist: 'This is the last chance'

WASHINGTON (AP) — Exactly 20 years after warning America about global warming, a top NASA scientist said the situation has gotten so bad that the world's only hope is drastic action.

James Hansen told Congress on Monday that the world has long passed the "dangerous level" for greenhouse gases in the atmosphere and needs to get back to 1988 levels. He said Earth's atmosphere can only stay this loaded with man-made carbon dioxide for a couple more decades without changes such as mass extinction, ecosystem collapse and dramatic sea level rises.

"We're toast if we don't get on a very different path," Hansen, director of the Goddard Institute of Space Sciences who is sometimes called the godfather of global warming science, told The Associated Press. "This is the last chance."

Hansen brought global warming home to the public in June 1988 during a Washington heat wave, telling a Senate hearing that global warming was already here. To mark the anniversary, he testified before the House Select Committee on Energy Independence and Global Warming where he was called a prophet, and addressed a luncheon at the National Press Club where he was called a hero by former Sen. Tim Wirth, D-Colo., who headed the 1988 hearing.

Monday, June 23, 2008

Agriculture and climate change

Here's a site from reliable folks admonishing more consciousness about how food is produced and delivered.

Monday, June 02, 2008

New Round of Climate Talks Open with Big Agenda, Small Hopes

BONN, Germany: If the devil is in the details, climate change negotiators are about to enter purgatory.
On Monday, some 2,000 delegates from 162 countries and dozens of specialist agencies open a two-week conference, the first to get into the nuts and bolts of a new global warming agreement meant to take effect after 2012.
The meeting builds on a landmark accord reached last December on the Indonesian island of Bali which, for the first time, held out the promise that the United States, China and India will join a coordinated effort to control carbon emissions blamed for the unnatural heating of the Earth.
The Bali conference agreed to conclude a new climate change treaty by December 2009. Another conference four months later in Bangkok adopted a negotiating timetable.
In Bonn, “the real work is now only beginning,” says Yvo de Boer, the U.N.’s top climate change official.
Scientists say the world’s carbon emissions must peak within the next 10 to 15 years and then fall by half by mid-century to avoid potentially catastrophic changes in weather patterns, a rise in sea levels that would threaten coastal cities and the mass extinction of plants and animals.
The new climate change pact will succeed the first phase of the 1997 Kyoto Protocol, which requires 37 industrialized nations to reduce greenhouse gas emissions an average of 5 percent below 1990 levels by 2012.

Friday, May 09, 2008

US Consumers Rank Last In World Survey of Green Habits


By Queenie Wong for McClatchy Newspapers

WASHINGTON - Americans rank last in a new National Geographic-sponsored survey released Wednesday that compares environmental consumption habits in 14 countries.
Americans were least likely to choose the greener option in three out of four categories - housing, transportation and consumer goods_ according to the assessment. In the fourth category, food, Americans ranked ahead of Japanese consumers, who eat more meat and seafood.
The rankings, called “Greendex,” are the first to compare the lifestyles and behaviors of consumers in multiple countries, according to the National Geographic Society.

Monday, May 05, 2008

NPR climate connection

Here's a pretty good site for climate info and discussion of issues and ramifications.

Saturday, April 19, 2008

Deep Antarctic waters freshening

By David Fogarty for the Daily Telegraph

SCIENTISTS studying the icy depths of the sea around Antarctica have detected changes in salinity that could have profound effects on the world's climate and ocean currents.
The scientists returned to Hobart on Thursday after a one-month voyage studying the Southern Ocean to see how it is changing and what those changes might mean for global climate patterns.

Voyage leader Steve Rintoul said his team found that salty, dense water that sinks near the edge of Antarctica to the bottom of the ocean about 5 km down was becoming fresher and more buoyant.

So-called Antarctic bottom water helps power the great ocean conveyor belt, a system of currents spanning the Southern, Pacific, Indian and Atlantic Oceans that shifts heat around the globe.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Rocky Mountain Climate Org

Looks like an interesting source, has some pdfs on the home page about losing snowpack, and thus water, in the west.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Global Warming Battleground: Coal Plants

By Judy Pasternak

WASHINGTON — Every time a new coal-fired power plant is proposed anywhere in the United States, a lawyer from the Sierra Club or an allied environmental group is assigned to stop it, by any bureaucratic or legal means necessary.

They might frame the battle as a matter of zoning or water use, but the larger war is over global warming: Coal puts twice as much temperature-raising carbon dioxide into the atmosphere as natural gas, second to coal as the most common power plant fuel.

The plant-by-plant strategy is part of a campaign by environmentalists to force the federal government to deal with climate change. The fights are scattered from Georgia to Wyoming, from Illinois to Texas, but the ultimate target is Washington, where the Bush administration has resisted placing limits on carbon dioxide and Congress has yet to act on a global warming bill.

Wednesday, April 09, 2008

NASA's Top Climate Scientist Says Big Oil is Hiding a "Planet in Crisis"

Global warming has plunged the planet into a crisis and the fossil fuel industries are trying to hide the extent of the problem from the public, NASA's top climate scientist says.

"We've already reached the dangerous level of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere," according to James Hansen, 67, director of NASA's Goddard Institute for Space Studies in New York. "But there are ways to solve the problem" of heat-trapping greenhouse gases like carbon dioxide, which Hansen said has reached the "tipping point" of 385 parts per million.

Hansen calls for phasing out all coal-fired plants by 2030, taxing their emissions until then, and banning the building of new plants unless they are designed to trap and segregate the carbon dioxide they emit.

The major obstacle to saving the planet from its inhabitants is not technology, insisted Hansen, named one of the world's 100 most influential people in 2006 by Time magazine.

Tuesday, April 01, 2008

World cooling on biofuel solution to climate change

by Aubrey Belford

AKARTA (AFP) - Once a golden promise in the fight against climate change, biofuels are fast losing their lustre as high demand for essential crops drives land clearing and pushes up the price of food.
Biofuels made from food crops such as corn, sugar, soybeans and oil palm burn cleaner than fossil fuels, but experts say high demand is sending ripples through the world economy, and could be doing the environment more harm than good.
Rudy Gosal, a 36-year-old courier who queued with hundreds of others in Indonesia's capital in March to buy government-subsidised cooking oil, is one of millions feeling the pinch of the push towards biofuels.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Giant Antarctic Ice Shelf Breaks Into The Sea

by Claire Truscott

A vast hunk of floating ice has broken away from the Antarctic peninsula, threatening the collapse of a much larger ice shelf behind it, in a development that has shocked climate scientists.
Satellite images show that about 160 square miles of the Wilkins ice shelf has been lost since the end of February, leaving the ice interior now “hanging by a thread”.
The collapsing shelf suggests that climate change could be forcing change much more quickly than scientists had predicted.
“The ice shelf is hanging by a thread,” said Professor David Vaughan of the British Antarctic Survey (BAS). “We’ll know in the next few days or weeks what its fate will be.”
The Wilkins shelf covers an area of 5,600 square miles (14,500 sq km). It is now protected by just a thin thread of ice between two islands.
Vaughan was a member of the team that predicted in 1993 that global warming could cause the Wilkins shelf to collapse within 30 years

Monday, March 24, 2008

Lovelock and his pessimistic prediction

We're all doomed! 40 years from global catastrophe - and there's NOTHING we can do about it, says climate change expert

The weather forecast for this holiday weekend is wildly unsettled. We had better get used to it.
According to the climate change scientist James Lovelock, this is the beginning of the end of a peaceful phase in evolution.
By 2040, the world population of more than six billion will have been culled by floods, drought and famine.
The people of Southern Europe, as well as South-East Asia, will be fighting their way into countries such as Canada, Australia and Britain.
We will, he says, have to set up encampments in this country, like those established for the hundreds of thousands of refugees displaced by the conflict in East Africa.
Lovelock believes the subsequent ethnic tensions could lead to civil war.
Crackpot or visionary, the fact is that more and more people are paying attention to Lovelock, and that he, himself, supports the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) - the influential group who shared the Nobel Peace Prize with former American vice president Al Gore for their campaigns on global warming.
Lovelock also says that Margaret Thatcher and the Queen are "sympathetic" to his views.
He has been proclaiming his Gaia Theory for a generation. This states that the Earth is a living, self-regulating system and that by filling its atmosphere with CO2 (carbon dioxide emissions) we have destroyed the balance and overheated the planet. We are in the phase when the thermometer suddenly shoots up.
Lovelock believes it is too late to repair the damage. Government targets are "futile". Britain contributes such a tiny amount of emissions compared with countries such as China that our self-regulatory measures are pathetic.
"Everyone could burn coal all day and drive around in 4x4s and it would not make a scrap of difference," he says.
It is hubris, he argues, to believe we can prevent the inevitable consequences of mankind's actions. Lovelock reminds us - in case it has slipped our memory - that the Earth has gone through exactly the same correction before.
"It was last as hot as this 55 million years ago. There was a geological accident in the North Sea, near where Norway is. A volcanic layer of lava came up underneath one of the large petroleum deposits. It vaporised the whole lot, putting into the atmosphere about two million, million tons of crude oil.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Arctic losing long-term ice cover

By Richard Black Environment correspondent, BBC News website

The Arctic is losing its old, thick ice faster than in previous years, according to satellite data.
The loss has continued since the end of the Arctic summer, despite cold weather across the northern hemisphere.
The warm 2007 summer saw the smallest area of ice ever recorded in the region, and scientists say 2008 could follow a similar pattern.
Older floes are thicker and less saline than newly-formed ice, meaning they can survive warm spells better.
It is not likely that perennial ice will recover in the long term.
Ice more than two years old now makes up about 30% of all the ice in the Arctic, down from 60% two decades ago.

Monday, March 10, 2008

Could Arctic Ice Melt Spawn New Kind of Cold War?

by Deborah Zabarenko for Reuters

WASHINGTON - With oil above $100 a barrel and Arctic ice melting faster than ever, some of the world’s most powerful countries — including the United States and Russia — are looking north to a possible energy bonanza.

This prospective scramble for buried Arctic mineral wealth made more accessible by freshly melted seas could bring on a completely different kind of cold war, a scholar and former Coast Guard officer says.

While a U.S. government official questioned the risk of polar conflict, Washington still would like to join a 25-year-old international treaty meant to figure out who owns the rights to the oceans, including the Arctic Ocean. So far, the Senate has not approved it.

Unlike the first Cold War, dominated by tensions between the two late-20th century superpowers, this century’s model could pit countries that border the Arctic Ocean against each other to claim mineral rights. The Arctic powers include the United States, Russia, Canada, Denmark and Norway.

Monday, February 04, 2008

"Tipping point" on horizon for Greenland ice

By Alister Doyle, Environment Correspondent for Reuters

OSLO (Reuters) - Global warming this century could trigger a runaway thaw of Greenland's ice sheet and other abrupt shifts such as a dieback of the Amazon rainforest, scientists said on Monday.

They urged governments to be more aware of "tipping points" in nature, tiny shifts that can bring big and almost always damaging changes such as a melt of Arctic summer sea ice or a collapse of the Indian monsoon.

"Society may be lulled into a false sense of security by smooth projections of global change," the scientists at British, German and U.S. institutes wrote in a report saying there were many little-understood thresholds in nature.

"The greatest and clearest threat is to the Arctic with summer sea ice loss likely to occur long before, and potentially contribute to, Greenland ice sheet melt," they wrote in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

"Tipping elements in the tropics, the boreal zone, and west Antarctica are surrounded by large uncertainty," they wrote, pointing to more potential abrupt shifts than seen in a 2007 report by the U.N. Climate Panel.

A projected drying of the Amazon basin, linked both to logging and to global warming, could set off a dieback of the rainforest.

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Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Antarctica Lost More Ice in Last 10 Years

By Deborah Zabarenko for Reuters

WASHINGTON - Antarctica lost billions of tons of ice over the last decade, contributing to the rising seas around the world, a climate researcher said on Monday.

The ice melted from two particular parts of the southern continent, according to Eric Rignot and colleagues, who wrote about the phenomenon in the journal Nature Geoscience.

Using satellites to monitor most of Antarctica’s coastline, the scientists estimate that West Antarctica lost 132 billion tons of ice in 2006, compared to about 83 billion tons in 1996. The Antarctic Peninsula, which stretches toward South America, lost about 60 billion tons in 2006.

To put this in perspective, 4 billion tons of ice would be enough to provide drinking water to the more than 60 million people of the United Kingdom for a year, fellow author Jonathan Bamber of the University of Bristol said in a statement.

This ice loss is not from the so-called ice sheets that cover the water around the continent. This melting occurred in the glaciers that cover much of the Antarctic land mass, and when that melts, it contributes to sea level rise in a way that sea ice does not.

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