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Science Briefing

Antarctic ice thins fast

September 26, 2009|From Times Staff And Wire Reports

Scientists are surprised at how extensively coastal ice in Antarctica and Greenland is thinning, according to a study Wednesday that could help predict rising sea levels linked to climate change.

Analysis of millions of NASA satellite laser images showed the biggest loss of ice was caused by glaciers speeding up when they flowed into the sea, according to scientists at the British Antarctic Survey and Bristol University.

"We were surprised to see such a strong pattern of thinning glaciers across such large areas of coastline," said Hamish Pritchard of the British Antarctic Survey, who led the study. Rising seas caused by a thaw of vast stores of ice on Antarctica and Greenland could threaten Pacific islands, coasts from China to the United States, and cities from London to Buenos Aires.

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