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Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Global warming linked to gravity

ANTARCTICA — Sea levels will rise at varying rates around the world because of a quirk of the earth’s gravity linked to global warming, a leading glaciologist said.

“Everyone thinks sea level rises the same around the world,” David Vaughan, of the British Antarctic Survey, said on Tuesday at the Rothera Base on the Antarctic Peninsula. “But it doesn’t”.

Rises could vary by tens of centimetres from region to region if seas gained by an average of one metre by 2100 as temperatures rise, he said. Worst-affected nations would have to budget billions of dollars more than others on coastal defences.

Vaughan said big ice sheets on Antarctica and on Greenland have a gravitational pull that lifts the seas around them — water levels around Antarctica, for instance, are higher than if the frozen continent were an open ocean.

As ice thaws, Antarctica would get smaller and its gravitational tug would diminish.

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