Gore at climate talks: Polar ice may go in 5 years

Gore at climate talks: Polar ice may go in 5 years


Former US Vice President Al Gore gestures as he joins cabinet ministers from Nordic countries for discussion on Greenland's ice sheet at the UN Climate summit in Copenhagen on Monday. APClicking through a slide show today in a packed side event, the former US vice president joined the foreign ministers of Norway and Denmark in presenting two new reports on melting Arctic ice.

The Arctic Ocean sea ice has shrunk dramatically, to record low levels, the past several summers. Scientists blame global warming, which has raised temperatures twice as fast in the far north as elsewhere.

Gore said polar scientists told him Sunday that the latest data "suggest a 75 per cent chance the entire polar ice cap will melt in summer within the next five to seven years."
Gore won a Nobel Peace prize for his climate change efforts.

Snow and ice are melting at an "accelerating pace" in regions ranging from Greenland to the Himalayas, the report   presented Monday at the UN climate change conference said. The report 'Melting Snow and Ice: A Call for Action' was commissioned by former US vice president Al Gore, co-winner of the 2007 Nobel Peace Prize, and Norwegian Foreign Minister Jonas Gahr Store earlier this year.

Less snow and ice means that more solar radiation will be absorbed as heat and contribute to "further melting and warming through a self-reinforcing effect", the report said.
The findings stated that the Arctic sea ice has "decreased significantly" in area, and was also thinning. The last three summers of 2007, 2008 and 2009 had the "lowest amounts of ice" since 1979.

Both Gore and Store called for global greenhouse gas cuts, saying "no other remedy we know can ensure that we avoid dangerous man-made climate change", adding that "despite all our efforts, we likely cannot prevent some changes in the Arctic and glacier environments".
Glaciers are shrinking in the European Alps, Patagonia, and north-western North America. The Greenland and Antarctic ice sheets are melting as well.
"Melting of land ice is now becoming the dominant contributor to sea level rise," the report said.

Other conclusions noted the risk to millions of people in low-lying areas which may become inundated as well as the decline of freshwater due to receding glaciers that serve as reservoirs.
Further, deposits of so-called black carbon on snow and ice can further speed up melting as the darker surface absorbs more heat. The deposits are due to burning of coal, diesel fuel, natural gas, and biomass.

Store told Norwegian broadcaster NRK that the "dramatic message" to the conference delegates was that the effects could only be averted "if we succeed in agreeing on an ambitious climate deal".

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