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Dec 04, 2013 12:20 PM EST

Experts Call For Alert System To Detect Abrupt Climate Change Events

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Once climate change reduce crops and induces catastrophic weather more frequently, it would be too late to reverse the effects of a warming globe without "better forecasting skills," Bloomberg News reported.

In "Abrupt Impacts of Climate Change: Anticipating Surprises," a panel of experts at the Research Council said dangerous rises in sea levels or heat waves can arrive quickly and leave little time to put preventative measures in place. Experts are calling for an early warning system to alert people to abrupt and potentially disastrous events triggered by climate change.

The expert panel said it believes science can anticipate major changes to the Earth, but not enough is being done to look for those changes and anticipate their impacts, National Public Radio reported.

"It's important to look down the road and try to identify what are the abrupt changes that we can plan for with some degree of confidence, and then make the best of them rather than having them hit us in the face," Anthony Barnosky, professor of integrated biology at the University of California in Berkley and a co-author of the report, told Bloomberg news.

According to the NPR, the Earth is already experiencing both gradual and abrupt climate changes; which shows that these worries are "not a matter for some distant future." The air is gradually warming up and rapid changes such as melting Arctic ice caps are occurring.

"When you think about gradual changes you can kind of see where the road is and know where you're going," Barnosky said at a news conference unveiling the report Tuesday. "When you think about abrupt changes and threshold effects, the road suddenly drops out from under you. And it's those kinds of things we're suggesting we need to anticipate in a much more comprehensive way."

NPR reported a potential problem climate scientists reportedly are aware involves sea levels which could quickly rise by as much as 25 feet if the West Antarctic  Ice Sheet were to melt and disintegrate into the sea.

At the conference James White, an earth scientist at the University of Colorado in Boulder, said scientists and experts are not watching that ice sheet very carefully to measure how much warming seawater is weakening the ice.

"We should be measuring ocean temperatures near the ice sheet," White said. "We should be measuring, far better, where the outlets are - where the glaciers go into the ocean. We don't do that."

According to Bloomberg News, the climate change alerts could be modeled on such programs as the National Integrated Drought Information System created by Congress in 2006 or the U.S. Agency for International Development's Famine Early Warning System Network.

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