THIS STORY HAS BEEN FORMATTED FOR EASY PRINTING

Warm oceans may speed ice melting

Associated Press / July 4, 2011

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WASHINGTON - Warming air from climate change is not the only thing that will speed ice melting near the poles - so will the warming water beneath the ice, a new study points out.

Increased melting of ice in Greenland and Antarctica has been reported as a result of global warming. But little attention has been paid to the impact of warmer water under the ice.

Now, Jianjun Yin of the University of Arizona and colleagues report the warming water could mean polar ice melting faster than had been expected. Their report was published in Nature Geoscience.

While melting floating ice will not raise the sea level, ice flowing into the sea from glaciers often reaches the bottom, and grounded ice melted by warm water around it can produce added water to the sea.

“Ocean warming is very important compared to atmospheric warming because water has a much larger heat capacity than air,’’ he said. “If you put an ice cube in a warm room, it will melt in several hours. But if you put an ice cube in a cup of warm water, it will disappear in just minutes.’’

“This means that Greenland and Antarctica are probably going to melt faster than the scientific community thought,’’ Jonathan Overpeck said.