(Reuters) – Quickening climate change in the Arctic including a thaw of Greenland’s ice could raise world sea levels by up to 1.6 meters by 2100, an international report showed on Tuesday.

The United Nations’ Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) said in its last major report in 2007 that world sea levels were likely to rise by between 18 and 59 cm by 2100. Those numbers did not include a possible acceleration of a thaw in polar regions.

“The study is yet another reminder of how pressing it has become to tackle climate change, although this urgency is not always evident neither in the public debate nor from the pace in the international negotiations,” European Climate Commissioner Connie Hedegaard told Reuter.

The Arctic Monitoring and Assessment Programme (AMAP) study, drawing on work by hundreds of experts, said there were signs that warming was accelerating. It said the Arctic Ocean could be nearly ice free in summers within 30 to 40 years, earlier than projected by the IPCC.

As reflective ice and snow shrink, they expose ever bigger areas of darker water or soil. Those dark regions soak up ever more heat from the sun, in turn stoking a melt of the remaining ice and snow.

These types of studies stress a need for accelerated response to climate change, and the development of long-term adaptation strategy. Climate Change Adaptation and Sea Level Rise is the focus of an upcoming program report from ACT, and ACT is also a key partner in the IDRC-funded three-year Coastal Cities at Risk research project led by ACT policy author Dr. Gordon McBean, that features Vancouver, Lagos, Bangkok and Manila.

This project will examine the fact that British Columbia will be required to respond to the change in sea level by relocating coastline communities, or through construction of protective perimeters, and consider effective adaptation responses.