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4/25/2008

WWF warns Arctic ice melting faster than predicted

On the Verge of the "tipping point"

Earth Change

MONTREAL (AFP) — Arctic sea ice is melting "significantly faster" than predicted and is approaching a point of no return, conservation group the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) warned in a new study.

The volumes of the Greenland Ice Sheet and ice in the Arctic Ocean were estimated at 2.9 million and 4.4 million cubic metres respectively in September 2007 -- the lowest ever levels recorded, the organization said Wednesday.

The sea ice shrank to 39 percent below its 1979-2000 mean volume, it said.

"Recently observed changes are happening at rates significantly faster than predicted" by the 2005 Arctic Climate Impact Assessment (ACIA) and last year's report by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), WWF said.

The melting of arctic sea ice and the Greenland Ice Sheet was happening so fast that experts were now questioning whether the situation is close to "tipping point," where sudden and possibly irreversible change takes place.


Pollutants from industry, transportation, and biomass burning form an "Arctic Haze" over much of the polar region in winter and spring. (Credit: NOAA)

Why Is Arctic Sea Ice Melting Faster Than Predicted?

“The Arctic is changing before our eyes,” said A.R. Ravishankara, director of the chemistry division at NOAA’s Earth System Research Laboratory in Boulder, Colo.



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