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We Set a Record

Greenland's ice sheet, which could be a major cause of rising sea levels, melted at a record rate in 2010. And a look at an ice field atop the highest mountain in the eastern European Alps suggests that the glacier may hold records of ancient climate extending back as much as a thousand years. We better investigate them quickly before it all melts away.If Greenland's ice sheet melts, ocean levels would rise by over 20 feet, which would drown coastal cities around the world.

The European glacier, Alto dell'Ortles, is the highest large ice body in the eastern Alps, reaching an altitude of almost 13,000 feet above sea level. However, only 10% of it is likely to hold a good climate record. Researcher Paolo Gabrielli says, "This is a mountain that is very difficult to climb and that has probably prevented researchers and glaciologists from Europe from going up there to study the ice. But it is an ideal observatory to have monitored climatic change in the region in the past as well as currently. "We hope to find out how these three factors interacted. We'd like to find evidence of whether climate conditions influenced the development of agriculture here, or even the start of primitive mining and smelting operations. We may even be able to see indications in the ice record of when people came to the region."

Once full ice cores are retrieved, the samples can be analyzed for a wide range of climate signals, including oxygen isotope ratios, heavy metals, organic material, sulfates, chlorides, dust, pollen and volcanic ash that offer indications of past climate conditions. That record would then be compared to records from other cores drilled from ice caps around the globe. But time is running out! If we don't see the light soon and do something about climate change, the melting of the glacial ice sheets, and consequent rising of the sea levels, will be a major transformation for the Earth. And we hate to say it, but time may be running out for this wonderful website as well, if we don't get more support from our readers and listeners. There's only ONE way to save us: Subscribe today! (and thanks).

I think its dangerous to assert that the melting of the ice caps WILL result in a 20ft rise in sea level. The estimates on this ranges from just under a foot to a maximum of 20ft. Sea levels WILL Rise, and they COULD rise by 20ft, but a lot of the data now is showing that melting ice caps will only raise sea levels by a couple of feet (which is still scary enough).

I think we should be mindful of the terms we use when discussing this subject. The item refers to "Greenland's ice sheet" which, since it doesn't already sit upon water, would most likely raise sea levels by quite a significant amount if it were all to melt. That part of the (so far still permanent) arctic "ice cap" that rests upon water would not contribute as much to rising sea levels if it were to melt, since it's already displacing a certain amount of water. The entire melting of the other "ice cap" - the Antarctic - would create havoc of another order altogether, since it contains massive amounts of locked-up water by comparison to the Arctic, and most of it sits upon the land mass of Antarctica.

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