Monday, February 11, 2008

Global Warming: Nine Things that Will Put us Over the Edge

Yup. We're screwed.

Global Warming: Nine Things that Will Put us Over the Edge

By Steve Connor, The Independent UK. Posted February 8, 2008.

Irreversible changes

* Arctic sea ice: some scientists believe that the tipping point for the total loss of summer sea ice is imminent.

* Greenland ice sheet: total melting could take 300 years or more but the tipping point that could see irreversible change might occur within 50 years.

* West Antarctic ice sheet: scientists believe it could unexpectedly collapse if it slips into the sea at its warming edges.

* Gulf Stream: few scientists believe it could be switched off completely this century but its collapse is a possibility.

* El Niño: the southern Pacific current may be affected by warmer seas, resulting in far-reaching climate change.

* Indian monsoon: relies on temperature difference between land and sea, which could be tipped off-balance by pollutants that cause localized cooling.

* West African monsoon: in the past it has changed, causing the greening of the Sahara, but in the future it could cause droughts.

* Amazon rainforest: a warmer world and further deforestation may cause a collapse of the rain supporting this ecosystem.

* Boreal forests: cold-adapted trees of Siberia and Canada are dying as temperatures rise.

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