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Glacier Ice Melt

August 8, 2007

We hear a lot about the melting polar ice sheets. But smaller ice caps may actually pose an even bigger problem.


An overlooked consequence of global warming. I’m Bob Hirshon and this is Science Update.

Sea levels are rising because of global warming. If they rise by just a few feet, it could devastate or even submerge coastal cities. The best-known contributor is the melting polar ice sheets. But according to a study by University of Colorado geological scientist Mark Meier and his colleagues, 60 percent of the world’s ice melt actually comes from glaciers and smaller ice caps scattered across the globe.

MARK MEIER (University of Colorado):
And we also project to the future that this contribution will be greater than that of the ice sheets, at least to the end of this century.

He adds that glaciers and ice caps melt faster than polar ice sheets, because they’re smaller, and what’s more, melting ice can lubricate glacier beds so they slide more quickly into the sea. I’m Bob Hirshon, for AAAS, the science society.