Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Sea levels could rise 4m this century: climate expert

ABC News Online, Posted Tue Aug 19, 2008 11:49am AEST 

Updated Tue Aug 19, 2008 5:44pm AEST


An expert in climate change says the world's sea levels could rise by up to four metres this century.

The head of the climate change unit at the Australian National University and science adviser to the Federal Government, Professor Will Steffen, says he believes the scientific community is underestimating the speed at which the climate is changing.

Professor Steffen has raised the concerns at the Coast to Coast Collaboration Conference in Darwin.

He says polar ice sheets across the northern shelf are melting quickly and last year was a record year in the loss of ice.

"The evidence over the past 12 to 18 months suggests that we have underestimated how fast this aspect of the earth's system can change," he said.

"We see things happening much faster than we thought."

A four-metre rise could have devastating effects on many low-lying areas in coastal Australia, including Darwin, where the Northern Territory Government was recently a major contributor to a billion-dollar waterfront redevelopment including the conference centre where today's meeting is being held.

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