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Signs of the Times for Sat, 18 Feb 2006

By Jim Hansen
17 February 2006
A satellite study of the Greenland ice cap shows that it is melting far faster than scientists had feared - twice as much ice is going into the sea as it was five years ago. The implications for rising sea levels - and climate change - could be dramatic.

Yet, a few weeks ago, when I - a Nasa climate scientist - tried to talk to the media about these issues following a lecture I had given calling for prompt reductions in the emission of greenhouse gases, the Nasa public affairs team - staffed by political appointees from the Bush administration - tried to stop me doing so. I was not happy with that, and I ignored the restrictions. The first line of Nasa's mission is to understand and protect the planet.

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By Steve Connor
17 February 2006
Greenhouse gases are being released into the atmosphere 30 times faster than the time when the Earth experienced a previous episode of global warming.

A study comparing the rate at which carbon dioxide and methane are being emitted now, compared to 55 million years ago when global warming also occurred, has found dramatic differences in the speed of release.

James Zachos, professor of earth sciences at the University of California, Santa Cruz, said the speed of the present build-up of greenhouse gases is far greater than during the global warming after the demise of the dinosaurs.

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By Steve connor, Science Editor in St Louis
17 February 2006
Global warming is causing the Greenland ice cap to disintegrate far faster than anyone predicted. A study of the region's massive ice sheet warns that sea levels may - as a consequence - rise more dramatically than expected.

Scientists have found that many of the huge glaciers of Greenland are moving at an accelerating rate - dumping twice as much ice into the sea than five years ago - indicating that the ice sheet is undergoing a potentially catastrophic breakup.

The implications of the research are dramatic given Greenland holds enough ice to raise global sea levels by up to 21ft, a disaster scenario that would result in the flooding of some of the world's major population centres, including all of Britain's city ports.

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Jeff Hecht
18 February 2006
From New Scientist Print Edition
HURRICANE Katrina, which ravaged New Orleans and left more than half a million people displaced, showed just how dangerous living in a flood-prone delta can be. For some researchers this came as no surprise. They think that by 2050, millions more living in low-lying river deltas will be equally vulnerable to rising sea levels, sinking land and storms.

Jason Ericson of the University of New Hampshire in Durham, now at the Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation in Richmond, and his colleagues identified five other deltas that could face similar, if not more devastating, disasters: the Bengal delta in Bangladesh, the Yangtze delta in China, the Mekong delta in Vietnam, the Nile delta in Egypt and the Godavari delta in India.

At a delta, "the shoreline is a balance between sea level and sedimentation", says Daniel Stanley, an expert on the marine geology of deltas at the Smithsonian Institution in Washington DC. Any reduction in the amount of sediment reaching the deltas can alter this balance, causing deltas to subside.

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By Nigel Hawkes
London Times
17 Feb 06
By the next millennium the global map will have been redrawn by disastrous climate changes, according to a new forecast
AN APOCALYPTIC vision of life 1,000 years from now has been painted by a team of scientists studying the effect of global warming.

If mankind does not put its house in order, temperatures could have risen by 15C (27F) by the year 3000 and sea levels by more than 11 metres (36ft), flooding much of London, the team, from the Tyndall Centre for Climate Change Research, says in a report for the Environment Agency. Abrupt changes could make Britain much hotter, or even — such is the uncertainty of the predictions — first colder and then hotter.

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Stephen Battersby
18 February 2006
New Scientist Print Edition

IF YOU'RE planning a spot of polar exploration, here's something you might want to consider. When, after that arduous trek across the ice sheet, you pose at the pole for a snapshot, you might be standing in the wrong place. In fact, the pole could be up to 10 metres from where it was only six months before.

Implausible as it sounds, the Earth's surface is constantly shifting relative to its axis so that the geographical poles wander all over the place. It may only be a few metres a year, and it's certainly not noticeable from day to day, but this polar wobble has been enough to puzzle stargazers for more than 100 years.

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Agence France Presse
18 Feb 06
Europe's largest poultry producer braced for a battle with deadly bird flu as Indonesia confirmed its 19th victim and UN experts warned the disease could deprive millions of Africans of food.

Britain too warned the H5N1 strain of the virus blamed officially for the deaths of more than 90 people since 2003 could arrive on its soil after French officials said they suspected it had killed more than a dozen birds.

Europe will need a year to be fully prepared for an eventual pandemic that experts fear could end up killing 142 million people worldwide, according to the director of the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control.

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John Aglionby, south-east Asia correspondent
Saturday February 18, 2006
The Guardian
Rescuers embarked on the seemingly hopeless task this morning of digging for survivors of a devastating landslide that buried an entire Philippines village, leaving as many as 1,800 people dead.

Drenching rain and high winds aggravated the already wretched task of digging through the barrage of mud that swept down a mountain and engulfed Guinsaugon on the central Philippine island of Leyte yesterday morning.

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