The Abominable Snow Trend

06-01-2002 // Mark Cheater

SNOW AND ICE are disappearing quickly, and our problems may be growing as a result. Scientists from the University of Colorado at Boulder gathered data from around the world and found that ice caps and glaciers (such as South Cascade glacier in Washington, left) have retreated farther in the past two decades than during the last several millennia. "Some glaciers around the world now are smaller than they have been in the last several thousand years," says Mark Meier, a geologist at Colorado. And the rate of ice loss has more than doubled since 1988, Meier adds. As a result, sea levels could rise twice as much as experts previously predicted--perhaps as much as two feet by the end of the 21st century. Meier notes that even a one-foot rise in sea levels could inundate 100 feet or more of coast and have "substantial social and economic impacts."

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