A report issued by the Arctic Monitoring and Assessment Program (AMAP) says global sea levels could rise by up to 1.6 meters by the year 2100.
Aggravated by a thaw of Greenland's ice, the rise will threaten many coastal areas from Bangladesh to Florida, as well as low-lying Pacific islands and cities such as London and Shanghai, Reuters reported.
According to the Oslo-based program, "the past six years (until 2010) have been the warmest period ever recorded in the Arctic."
Backed by the eight-nation Arctic Council, the program warns that "in the future, global sea level is projected to rise by 0.9 meters to 1.6 meters by 2100 and the loss of ice from Arctic glaciers, ice caps and the Greenland ice sheet will make a substantial contribution".
"Arctic glaciers, ice caps and the Greenland ice sheet contributed over 40 percent of the global sea level rise of around 3 mm per year observed between 2003 and 2008," it said.
While climate change in the Arctic is happening at about twice the world average, foreign ministers of the Arctic Council nations -- the United States, Russia, Canada, Sweden, Finland, Denmark, Norway and Iceland - are set to meet in Greenland on May 12, 2011.
The last major report released by the United Nations' Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) in 2007 said that global sea levels were likely to rise by between 18 and 59 cm by 2100, but it did not consider a possible acceleration of a thaw in polar regions.
"It is worrying that the most recent science points to much higher sea level rise than we have been expecting until now," European Climate Commissioner Connie Hedegaard told Reuters.
"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," she said.
The United Nations talks on fighting climate change are proceeding in a very low pace and the UN says promises made to limit greenhouse gas emissions are not enough to curb global warming.
The AMAP study shows that warming is accelerating and the Arctic Ocean could be nearly ice free in summers within 30 to 40 years.
"There is evidence that two components of the Arctic cryosphere -- snow and sea ice -- are interacting with the climate system to accelerate warming," the study said.