About 300 scientists are attending the Climate & Cryosphere (CliC) First Science Conference that convened on Monday in Beijing to discuss issues including the threat of rising sea levels triggered by shrinking glaciers.
David Carson, director of World Climate Research Program (WCRP), said ice cover visibly shrank between satellite photos taken in 2002 and 2003.
Fluctuations in the cryosphere, the portion of the Earth's surface where water is frozen, can trigger marked climate change.
Melting glaciers impact the water downstream, particularly in arid and semi-arid regions, said Qin Dahe, director of the China Meteorological Administration, which is hosting the event.
Hanne Petersen, a scientist from the Danish Polar Center, said some animals, such as walruses and seals, had to climb out onto land since they could not find ice to rest on.
At the forum, scientists will cover many topics including the impact of changes in the cryosphere on the atmosphere and ocean, the contribution of glaciers to changes in sea level across decades and centuries, and the likelihood of abrupt climate changes resulting from cryosphere variations.
The CliC project was established in 2000 to focus on the most unstable sphere in climate systems and is the youngest program of the WCRP.
The conference is scheduled to last for five days.
(Xinhua News Agency April 12, 2005)