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Doubts melt

 

Vanishing glaciers provide visible evidence of a warming climate.Vanishing glaciers provide visible evidence of a warming climate. (hi-res image)

Glaciers thrice as tall as the Empire State building calve, crumble, and careen into the sea during Chasing Ice, a film in which National Geographic photographer James Balog chronicles the rapid disappearance of Arctic ice as Earth's average temperature rises.

In 2007 Balog launched his Extreme Ice Survey by placing time-lapse cameras in Alaska, Montana, Iceland, and Greenland to compress years into seconds and capture the death throes of ancient glaciers. Because atmospheric carbon dioxide cannot be seen with the naked eye, Balog chose to photograph ice, the first place the effects of greenhouse-gas increases could be witnessed, "to make the invisible visible and tangible," said Chasing Ice director/producer Jeff Orlowski.

After the February 1 screening of the movie at a Knoxville theater, Orlowski was on hand with four scientists from the Climate Change Science Institute (CCSI) at Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) to answer a range of audience questions from how a gas that makes up less than 1 percent of the atmosphere can exert such a powerful effect to whether glaciers are goners.

When asked about the consequences of Greenland greening with the disappearance of ice sheets, CCSI Deputy Director Benjamin Preston, who moderated the discussion, replied that the complete melting of the Greenland ice sheet would unlock about 7 meters (22 feet) of global sea-level rise. "That's basically a level of oceans that none of us has ever seen," Preston said.

Read the full story on the CCSI panel discussion. http://climatechangescience.ornl.gov/content/doubts-melt-scientists-and-filmmaker-discuss-climate-change-chasing-ice-screening

 -  Dawn Levy,  865.576.6448,  February 28, 2013
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