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Climate - the hot topic in Doha
Date:12/6/2012

ESA joined international delegates in Doha, Qatar, to discuss how satellite observations show our planet's most sensitive areas reacting to climate change and how this information is useful to the people living there.

After almost two weeks of talks and negotiations, the UN Climate Change Conference has entered its final phase, when countries are represented mainly by their Ministers of Environment. During the first week of the 'COP 18' Conference of the Parties, ESA held 'The Shrinking Ice' side meeting chaired by the Director of the World Climate Research Programme, Ghassem Asrar, on monitoring and adapting to change in the cryosphere.

Speakers at the event included Frank Paul from the University of Zurich and a lead scientist for ESA's Climate Change Initiative (CCI) on glaciers, Ren Forsberg from DTU Space and lead scientist for CCI on ice sheets, and Jimmie Qaapik, a teacher at the Nunavut Arctic College in Canada.

The cryosphere is the part of the world where snow and ice is formed, such as the Arctic and Antarctic home to glaciers, ice sheets and sea ice. These areas are extremely sensitive, and can provide early indications of climate change.

"Glaciers do not react to short-term fluctuations of the weather, they react to long-term changes in climate," said Frank Paul.

"Small changes in climate cause very large changes in glaciers."

Satellites can help us to monitor and understand changes in polar ice because they carry instruments that measure changes in the thickness of the ice sheets, fluctuations in the speed of the outlet glaciers and even small changes in Earth's gravity field caused by melting ice.

Radars on Earth observation satellites are particularly suited to monitoring polar regions because they can acquire images through clouds and darkness.

Data from satellites, together with in-situ information, can also assist people living in polar regions to adapt to the
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Contact: Robert Meisner
robert.meisner@esa.int
European Space Agency
Source:Eurekalert

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