HL Deb 26 January 2005 vol 668 cc165-6WA
Lord Avebury

asked Her Majesty's Government:

What assessment they have made of the claim made by Dr Peter Cox on the BBC's "Horizon" programme on 15 January that a rise in average global temperature of two degrees could precipitate the melting of the Greenland ice cap and a rise in sea level of seven to eight metres. [HL790]

Lord Whitty

Research funded by the department suggests that a local temperature change in Greenland of 2.7 degrees (compared to 1990 levels), which roughly corresponds to a global temperature change of two degrees, could trigger melting of the Greenland ice sheet.

Total melting of the ice sheet would depend on whether the temperature change was sustained or increasing. A sustained temperature change of 2.7 degrees would result in a slow decrease in the size of the ice sheet over millennia and, possibly, its eventual elimination. A further increase in the temperature change is likely to result in the elimination of the ice sheet, over a timescale of a thousand years or more, depending on the size of the temperature rise. Complete melting of the ice sheet would result in sea level rise of approximately seven metres.