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Oct 24, 2007

Greenland is melting - oh no - the sky is falling

In your best chicken little voice - "the ice is melting, the ice is melting."

CNN news

But below the surface, the ice sheet is in constant motion, as ice built up in the interior pushes toward the coast in the form of massive glaciers. During warmer months, ice from these glaciers melts into the ocean.

It's an age-old process that scientists say has speeded up in recent decades because of global warming.

A recent report from the U.N.'s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, made up of scientists from around the world, estimates the sea level rise by 2100 could be as much as 1½ feet.

"When we came here in 1990, the first two, three years were actually colder than normal. Then in 1994, 1995, it started to warm steadily and since then, we've had a temperature increase during the winter months of 4.5 degrees centigrade, 8.1 degrees Fahrenheit, which is very large, the largest temperature increase on earth," he said.

Despite all the changes in Greenland, this is not the first time temperatures have risen on the world's largest island. During the 1920s and 1930s, there was a significant warming trend that occurred without the level of man-made greenhouse gases recorded in our atmosphere today. The majority of scientists say greenhouse gases are the chief cause of global warming.

The fact Greenland has warmed before leads some scientists to question how worried we should be about the current warming trend. Dr. Patrick Michaels, a climatologist, is part of a small group of climate change skeptics. He said Greenland's warm past didn't cause the ice sheet to disappear.

"Well, this happened for 50 years in the early 20th century, and it happened for a millennium after the end of the last ice age," he said. "And the ice didn't shed off it."

"Even if we reduce our carbon dioxide output, the climate will continue to warm," he said. "So even by stopping the increase of carbon dioxide today, we will have a warming, we will have sea level increase."

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