worse than we thought – sea ice melt, glacier retreat!

Every few years, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), a group of the world’s leading climate scientists, is tasked with explaining the causes and effects of climate change in a comprehensive report. Yet the science of climate change is evolving more rapidly than the reports can be published.

Since the IPCC’s latest assessment was released a mere 14 months ago, in November 2007, studies suggest that sea-ice melt, glacier retreat, and food insecurity are all more dire than the IPCC predicted.

W.L. Hare, a lead author of the 2007 IPCC report, considers the “master risk” of climate change to be sea-level rise, caused by the melting of land-based ice (such as the Greenland ice cap) and the thermal expansion of sea water.

We will be lucky to keep sea-level rise below one meter rise within this century, and two meters rise can’t be ruled out, said Hare, an environmental scientist with the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research and a contributing author of the new Worldwatch Institute report State of the World 2009: Into A Warming World.

Worldwatch Institute, January 2009