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Climate Change and Changing Geographies

The Greenland island, Uunartoq Qeqertaq, recently emerged from its long sleep under a blanket of ice. Uunartoq Qeqertaq – Inuit for ‘Warming Island,’ an appropriate name if there ever was one – joins South Sudan and around 7,000 other geographic additions and changes to the Times Comprehensive Atlas of the World – the most comprehensive atlas in the world.  A recent article in the Guardian points out that some of the most dramatic changes since the last edition are associated with climate change in the polar regions.  Changes highlight that Greenland lost 15%, or 300,000 sq km of its permanent ice cover, and Antarctica continued to shrink. The editors of the Atlas will have their work cut out for them in the coming decades as the world’s physical geography is expected to shift at a rate unprecedented in cartographic history.

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Update: BBC News reports on a dispute over the extent of Greenland ice melt illustrated in the Times Atlas.  Scientists from the Scott Polar Research Institute say the ice has not shrunk as much as reported by the Atlas. A spokesperson for Atlas publishing company responded, stating that the maps are based on data provided by the US National Snow and Ice Data Center (NSIDC) and that “While global warming has played a role in this reduction, it is also as result of the much more accurate data and in-depth research that is now available. Read as a whole, both the press release and the 13th edition of the Atlas make this clear.”

RealClimate takes a closer look at the science behind the melting.


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