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Sea level may rise 1m+ by 2100

2009-09-02 17:14

Geneva - The world's seas could rise by more than a metre by 2100 as the melting Arctic has an impact on weather across the planet, the environmental group WWF said in a report on Wednesday.

That projection, roughly twice the sea-level rise cited in UN and other research, takes account of the impact of disappearing ice sheets of Greenland and western Antarctica.

Sharply higher seas could also lead to flooding of coastal regions, potentially affecting about a quarter of the world's population, the WWF said.

"If we allow the Arctic to get too warm, it is doubtful whether we will be able to keep these feedbacks under control," Martin Sommerkorn, senior adviser for WWF's Arctic programme, said in a statement.

"It is urgently necessary to rein in greenhouse gas emissions while we still can,"

The dramatic loss of sea ice resulting from the Arctic's warming at about twice the rate of the rest of the world will affect conditions well beyond the planetary poles, WWF found.

Stored carbon

Europe and North America may, for example, experience unusually cold winters, whereas Greenland may experience warmer winters from the sea-level changes and shifted humidity.

Moreover, the warming of the Arctic could itself become an engine for more global warming, it argued.

The Arctic's frozen soils and wetlands store twice as much carbon as is held in the atmosphere.

As warming in the Arctic continues, soils will increasingly thaw and release carbon into the atmosphere as carbon dioxide and methane, at significantly increased rates, the report said.

Levels of atmospheric methane, a particularly potent greenhouse gas, have been increasing for the past two years, probably due to the warming Arctic tundra.

The WWF called the world's leaders to agree on rapid and deep cuts of carbon emissions when they meet in December in Copenhagen for the final round of negotiations for a new global agreement on climate change.

Reuters