Melting glaciers 'threaten UK'

Melting ice in the Arctic could end up costing Britain billions of pounds. Leading scientists have told ITV News that the country needs to prepare now for the increased threat of flooding caused by rising sea levels.

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Camp Barneo: North Pole's floating ice camp

Camp Barneo, otherwise known as the North Pole Camp, is located just 49km from the top of the world. It is set up every year from scratch, and serves as a base for excursions to the Pole. Here are some other facts about North Pole's floating ice camp:

  • By the end of April it starts melting, making Barneo the most temporary runway in the world, open for business less than one month every year.
  • This year, work on Barneo will have to wrap up about a week earlier than usual, as the ice melts faster than ever before.
  • Barneo is constantly moving as northerly winds push the floating camp towards the southeast at up to 0.5mph.
  • Every year in March 50 tons of equipment – everything from food supplies to bulldozers - are dropped onto the camp by parachute.


Experts say melting glaciers are raising UK flood risk

Melting glaciers in the Arctic are increasing the flood risk to the UK and could end up costing us billions of pounds, according to a top environmental official.

Glaciers are responsible for around half of the rise in sea levels to date.

Leading scientists have told ITV News that Arctic glaciers are melting faster than expected and that the UK needs to prepare for more frequent flooding as a result.

In his latest report on the changing Arctic, our Science Editor Lawrence McGinty has been to meet some glaciologists in the Norwegian archipelago of Svalbard:

Rapid Arctic melting is 'first and foremost a global issue'

A delegate from the influential Arctic Council that jointly governs the polar region has warned that the rapid melting of ice demand the attention of governments around the world.

The Council has just made its first visit to the North Pole, from where ITV News' Science Editor Lawrence McGinty just filed a report on the changing Arctic.

Icelandic delegate Jonas Allansson told ITV News that changes were taking place "much faster than anticipated" and that the policies of all nations must reflect this.

Among the issues the Council must address is access to the vast fossil fuel deposits that have become accessible with the shrinking ice, and the possibility of a northern shipping route that could dramatically reduce journey times for cargo ships.

The Council consists of delegates from the eight countries whose territories fall within the Arctic Circle, including the US, Canada, Russia and Norway.


Scientists predict sea levels will rise 1m by 2100

Sea levels have been rising steadily since the 19th century, but the melting of glaciers is increasing the pace of that rise. If some scientists' prediction of a 1m rise come true, it could have a devastating effect on coastal areas around the world.

  • Satellite data shows that global sea levels rose at a rate of about 3mm per year since 1993, and by 10-20cm in the past century
  • The UN climate body, the IPCC, predicts a rise of between 18 and 59cm above today's levels by the end of the century
  • Some scientists say this prediction is too low given the increased melting of glaciers and ice-sheets
  • Melting glaciers contribute roughly half of the rise to the world's oceans. The other main contributor is thermal expansion
  • The contribution from the melting ice-sheets of Antarctica and Greenland is hardest to predict, but could be huge
  • If the ice sheets of Greenland and Antarctica melted entirely, sea levels would rise by around 70 metres.

Sea level rise dramatically increases UK flood risk

Professor David Vaughan of the British Antarctic Survey has warned that a 50cm rise in sea levels would dramatically increase the risk of flooding in London and the rest of the UK.

The Thames Barrier is designed to protect London against all but a one-in-a-thousand year storm surge, but if such a sea rise occurred the level of protection would fall to one-in-a-hundred years.

Such a rise would be at the more extreme end of current IPCC predictions, but some scientists say a 1m rise by 2100 is possible.

Professor Vaughan also says that the IPCC predictions did not fully take into account loss of ice from Greenland and Antartica - something he is working to remedy.

Scientists warn of cost to Britain from rising sea levels

The head of the European Environment Agency has warned that the impact of rising sea levels could be drastic and damaging to Britain's shorelines if more is not done now.

Scientists say melting glaciers could contribute to a sea levels rise of a metre by the end of the century.

The agency's executive director Jacqueline McGlade told ITV News if policy makers do not prepare now, "by waiting too long, you spend a lot more money to fix the problem."

ITV News Science Editor Lawrence McGinty will be filing reports on the changing Arctic for the rest of this week. Watch his second report on ITV News at 1.30pm today.

Are rapid changes in the Arctic affecting UK weather?

The UK is experiencing an unusually long winter with some of the coldest temperatures on record for March and April.

Some scientists believe that rapid melting of Arctic ice - it shrank to its smallest area on record in September 2012 - may be altering our weather system.

ITV News' Science Editor Lawrence McGinty has travelled to a remote research station close to the North Pole to observe how the Arctic is changing and how this could affect us.

Here is the first in a series of special reports:

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