(reposted from MNN Daily Brief, e-Newsletter, September 24, 2009) POLAR MELTDOWN: Ice sheets in Greenland and western Antarctica are melting faster than scientists previously thought, and some places are experiencing “a runaway effect,” according to a team of British scientists who analyzed laser readings taken by NASA satellites. Some Antarctic ice sheets have been losing 30 feet of thickness annually since 2003, and while many areas are up to a mile thick to begin with, the melting is speeding up – the rate of Antarctic thinning was 50 percent higher between 2003 and 2007 than it was from 1995 to 2003. The problem isn’t warmer air, but warmer water, which wears down the ice from the outside in. “To some extent it’s a runaway effect,” says the lead author of the study, which was published online today in the journal Nature. “The question is how far will it run?” (Sources: Associated Press, USA TodaySan Francisco Chronicle)

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