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New study warns sea levels to rise higher tha -

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New study warns sea levels to rise higher than anticipated

AM - Friday, 2 February , 2007 08:21:00

Reporter: Sarah Clarke

TONY EASTLEY: When a special new climate change report is released in Paris tonight, humans are
expected to face most of the blame for global warming.

Coinciding with the report is a new study, published in the journal Science, which warns that the
rate of climate change has been underestimated; that sea levels will rise higher than anticipated.

Environment reporter, Sarah Clarke explains.

SARAH CLARKE: The study reviewed actual observations of carbon dioxide, temperature and sea level
rises from 1990 until now, comparing them with forecasts made by climate models.

What it found was CO2 levels are as predicted. Temperatures are in the upper range, but sea levels
are rising faster than scientists thought.

John Church is from the CSIRO and was one of seven leading scientists who compiled the report.

JOHN CHURCH: It certainly suggests that sea level is at the upper end of the expectations of the
last report, which would lead to a 88 centimetre rise between 1990 and 2100 if it continued to
track along that line.

SARAH CLARKE: Early drafts of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change Report have suggested
sea level rises of up to 58.5 centimetres.

But this report makes it clear that rapidly melting glaciers, ice caps and ice sheets in Greenland
and Antarctica are playing a more significant role.

JOHN CHURCH: But some of this surface melt is, we believe, flowing down to the base of the
Greenland ice sheet, potentially lubricating the base of the Greenland icesheet, allowing glaciers
to flow more rapidly into the ocean, leading to a more rapid sea level rise.

This process is not well represented in the models and the concern is that this is essentially a
one-sided answer that can only increase the amount of sea level rise from the current models.

SARAH CLARKE: Some fear that this will mean the world's coastlines will be flooded earlier than
expected.

Chris Mitchell from the CSIRO'S Climate, Weather And Ocean Prediction Unit says policy makers must
take note of the updated advice.

CHRIS MITCHELL: You'd expect to see bigger impacts around the coast and that's it, yes, you'll get
faster erosion than you would've expected otherwise. You'll have to pay more attention to your
coastal management, there are potentially more people at risk globally from sea level change and
all those things have to be taken into account.

SARAH CLARKE: Tonight, the much anticipated Intergovernmental Panel On Climate Change Report will
be unveiled in Paris.

Drawing on research from 2500 scientists, it's expected to say they're now 90 per cent sure that
human activities are to blame for warming over the past 50 years.

Erwin Jackson from the Climate Institute says that's good enough reason to convince all governments
to act.

ERWIN JACKSON: And that unless we significantly reduce greenhouse pollution, significantly invest
in clean energy, these trends are going to get very severe in the future.

TONY EASTLEY: Erwin Jackson from the Climate Institute ending that report from Sarah Clarke.