The Big Melt

ice lake

Later this week in Paris, climate scientists will issue dire forecast for the planet that warns of slowly rising sea levels and higher temperatures.

But that may be the sugarcoated version.

Early and changeable drafts of their upcoming authoritative report on climate change foresee smaller sea level rises than were projected in 2001 in the last report.

Many top U.S. scientists reject these rosier numbers. Those calculations don’t include the recent, and dramatic, melt-off of big ice sheets in two crucial locations:

They “don’t take into account the gorillas — Greenland and Antarctica,” said Ohio State University earth sciences professor Lonnie Thompson, a polar ice specialist.

“I think there are unpleasant surprises as we move into the 21st century.”

Michael MacCracken, who until 2001 coordinated the official U.S. government reviews of the international climate report on global warming, has fired off a letter of protest over the omission.