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Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Dorthe Dahl Jensen, Al Gore call for quick action to slow melting of Arctic

Al Gore Calls For Swift Action On Melting Ice

CBS News Interactive: Global Warming

April 28, 2009, 2:00 p.m. US/Central

OSLO, Norway (AP) ―Al Gore said Tuesday the world must act quickly to slow the melting of the world's polar ice packs and glaciers before it reaches a critical rate for global warming.

"We have to act and we have to act quickly because we don't want to cross this tipping point," the Nobel peace laureate and former U.S. vice president told a meeting of foreign ministers, experts and scientists from the most affected countries.

The meeting, called "Melting Ice Regional Dramas, Global Wake-Up Call" was held the day before a meeting of the Arctic Council of foreign ministers. The council members are the United States, Russia, Canada, Sweden, Denmark, Finland, Iceland and Norway.

Dorthe Dahl Jensen, an expert from Denmark's Niels Bohr Institute, told the conference in the Arctic town of Tromsoe that the need for a wake-up call was genuine for the polar and glacial regions.

"Antarctica and Greenland have been sleeping until now," she said. "Now they are awakening giants."

She said if Greenland's ice sheet melted, sea levels would rise by 7 meters (23 feet). If Antarctica melted, the rise would be up to 70 meters (230 feet), she said.

Gore, who shared the 2007 Nobel Peace Prize in Oslo for his campaign to draw attention to global warming, said there was a danger of permafrost melting. He said that would thaw vast amounts of organic matter that microorganisms would then turn into climate damaging methane gas, doubling current levels of climate gases.

"As difficult as this challenge is to solve now, it would be twice as difficult if you waited until this (permafrost) thawed," he said.

Gore said carbon dioxide and methane remain the greatest challenges, but that another pollutant, black carbon — or soot — from diesel engines and fires also is a threat. It blackens snow and ice, trapping heat and accelerating the melt.

However, Norwegian Foreign Minister Jonas Gahr Stoere, who co-hosted the meeting with Gore, said soot could be reduced quickly and regionally.

"It might give regions of ice and snow a chance to survive long enough for greenhouse gas reductions to have an impact," Stoere said.

Stoere said the Tromsoe meetings were setting up a scientific task force to draft a report on the melting of ice globally to the U.N. climate change conference in Copenhagen in December.

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