Global Warming

Scientists Are Watching China’s Glaciers Disappear

Xinjiang, a land of mountains, forests and deserts, is four times the size of California and is home to 20,000 glaciers — nearly half of all the glaciers in China. Since the 1950s, all of Xinjiang’s glaciers have retreated by between 21 percent to 27 percent.

Scientists are the only people allowed here. The government has banned tourism on the glacier and shut down factories in the town below, laying off 7,000 workers to try to lessen the impact of pollution. But local sources of pollution account for just 30 percent of the damage to glaciers, says Li. The other 70 percent is caused by global carbon emissions that have warmed the entire planet.

At the rate global temperatures are rising, some 55 percent of all the glaciers in Xinjiang — nearly 11,000 — will be gone within 50 years.

The Tianshan No. 1 glacier below is melting fast, receding by at least 30 feet each year. Scientists warn that the glacier — the source of the Urumqi River, which more than 4 million people depend on — may soon disappear.



Global Warming

Antarctica – Pine Island Glacier Calves

A colossal iceberg four and a half times the size of Manhattan has broken off the Pine Island Glacier in West Antarctica, marking the second time the glacier has calved a giant iceberg in just two years, according to news reports. The satellite image shows that the glacier has lost an enormous chunk of ice.

Of all the glaciers in West Antarctica, the Pine Island Glacier is the largest contributor of ice to the ocean. Each year, it loses 45 billion tons (408 billion metric tons) of ice, causing sea levels to increase 0.03 inches (1 millimeter) every eight years, according to The Washington Post. If the entire glacier melted, sea levels could rise 1.7 feet (0.5 m), The Washington Post reported.

Screen Shot 2017 09 27 at 12 53 56 PM

Global Warming

Glacier National Park Is Losing Its Glaciers

Glacier National Park is losing its namesake glaciers and new research shows just how quickly: Over the past 50 years, 39 of the parks glaciers have shrunk dramatically, some by as much as 85 percent.

Of the 150 glaciers that existed it the park in the late 19th century, only 26 remain.

The pristine, 1 million-acre park sits along the border with Canada in Montana and has long been a poster child for climate change in U.S. national parks. Side-by-side photo comparisons show in the starkest terms just how far some glaciers have retreated, with some only reduced to small nubs of ice.

The retreat has happened as temperatures in the region have risen by 1.5°F since 1895 as heat-trapping greenhouse gases have continued to accumulate in the atmosphere.

A 2014 study found that it is this human-caused warming that accounts for the bulk of worldwide glacier loss over the past few decades.

Boulder Glacier with visitors in 1932 and bare land in 1988. The ice has shrunk so much that it’s no longer considered an active glacier.

Screen Shot 2017 05 11 at 11 50 42 AM

Screen Shot 2017 05 11 at 11 50 57 AM

Global Warming

Global Warming – Heatwave Hits Chile’s Glaciers

High, high up in the Andes mountains above Chile’s capital, at the foot of the glaciers that date from the last ice age, the temperatures were almost balmy this summer. That threatens long-term water supplies to the city of seven million spread out on the plain below.

At the Olivares Alfa glacier, 4,420 meters above sea level, temperatures rose above 10 Celsius on several days in January and rarely fell below zero, said Andres Rivera, a glaciologist at the Center of Scientific Studies in Valdivia.

“It is not rare to have above-zero temperatures during summer, but high temperatures day and night, for several days in a row, that was unprecedented,” Rivera said.

The glaciers that supply much of Santiago’s water over the hot, dry summer months shrunk by a quarter to 380 square kilometers in the 30 years to 2013/14, according to a study by the Universidad de Chile. The melt will accelerate if the South American nation sees more record breaking heatwaves as global warming increases. Eventually, the shrinking glaciers may force the citizens of Santiago to follow their counterparts in southern California and give up their green lawns and swimming pools.

Screen Shot 2017 04 27 at 1 44 47 PM

The Echaurren Norte glacier above the Laguna Negra reservoir has shrunk in height by the equivalent of 20 meters of water over the past 40 years, according to the government’s Water Directorate. That standard measure for glaciers means that the height of the ice has been reduced by about 25 meters since 1976.

That was before this year’s heat wave, with the glacier probably shrinking further in the past 12 months.

The worst wildfires the country has seen in generations burned 614,000 hectares of woodland and crops, dumping ash on the glaciers thousands of meters up in the Andes mountains. That meant the ice absorbed more heat, instead of reflecting it back.

Chile’s giant copper industry probably isn’t helping the glaciers either.

State-owned Codelco’s Andina copper mine and Anglo American Plc.’s Los Bronces both sit right next to the Olivares glacier system. Their operations are impacting the glaciers and the planned expansion of Andina could have an even larger effect, Ferrando said.

“The mine pit has often been drilled on both ice glaciers and rock glaciers,” Ferrando said. “Trucks also lift dust that strong winds move to the glaciers and this changes the way solar radiation lands on the ice and increases the effect of heat.”

The situation may be even more critical in neighboring Bolivia where glaciers have shrunk by 43 percent in 20 years, according to research by Manchester Metropolitan University. The study said new lakes have appeared as a consequence of the melting and at least 25 of them are at risk of causing floods or mudslides.

At some point soon, Latin America needs to prepare for life without glaciers.

Global Warming

Climate change causes huge Canadian river to vanish in four days

Slims River in Canada is no more as the water that once fed it now flows south, not north.

A river disappeared in just four days after a melting glacier retreated so much that it opened up an alternative route to the sea.

Such dramatic changes are known in the geological record but this is believed to be the first time in 350 years that an entire river has vanished.

The Kaskawulsh glacier in Canada has retreated about a mile up its valley over the past 100 years, researchers reported in the journal Nature Geoscience. Until last spring, it sent meltwater into the Slims River, which eventually flowed north to the Bering Sea.

However the glacier shrank back so much that the water was able to join the Kaskawulsh River, which flows south into the Gulf of Alaska. And that saw the Slims River turn into a long thin lake and gradually start to dry up.


Global Warming

NASA Satellite Spots Mile-Long Iceberg Breaking Off of Antarctic Glacier

A massive, 1-mile-long (1.6 kilometers) chunk of ice has broken off Antarctica’s fast-changing Pine Island Glacier, and NASA satellites captured the dramatic event as the icy surface cracked and ripped apart.

Pineisland oli 2017024

Pine island glacier

Global Warming

Global warming is responsible for melting mountain glaciers: study

Since glaciers respond slowly to climate change and are susceptible to yearly weather changes, there has been some debate in the scientific community about whether climate change was entirely to blame for their ice melt.

For instance, the last report from the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change concluded only that it was “likely” that a “substantial” part of mountain glacier retreat is due to human-induced climate change.

The latest study in Nature Geoscience uses statistical techniques to analyze 37 mountain glaciers around the world.

For most of them the observed retreat is more than 99 percent likely due to climate change, said the report, meaning scientists are “virtually certain” of this cause-and-effect over the past century.

“Because of their decades-long response times, we found that glaciers are actually among the purest signals of climate change,” said co-author Gerard Roe, a University of Washington professor of Earth and Space Sciences.

For instance, researchers determined that the Hintereisferner Glacier in Austria has retreated 1.75 miles (2.8 kilometres) since 1880, and that climate change is extremely likely to be responsible, with the probability that the changes are natural variations being less than 0.001 percent, or one in 100,000.

For the well-known Franz Josef Glacier in New Zealand, there is a less than one percent chance that natural variations could explain the overall two-mile retreat in the last 130 years, it said.

Among the glaciers with the least certainty that global warming is to blame were Rabots Glacier in northern Sweden and South Cascade Glacier in the US northwestern state of Washington.

For those the probability that their retreats might be due to natural variability in weather patterns ranged between six and 11 percent.

L 123500 043258 updates

Global Warming

Tibetan glaciers are being destroyed by global warming

Scientists have issued a grave warning about the future of glaciers in western Tibet after nine yak herders were killed in an avalanche. They say global warming is destabilising the dense ice formations that they once thought were immune from rising temperatures.

Meltwater seeping under glaciers of the Tibetan Plateau triggered a deadly avalanche this year, sweeping the nomadic yak herders to their deaths. Two months later a neighbouring glacier in the same mountain range without warning gave way.

Researchers have now found the meltwater in the first avalanche acted as a lubricant between the ground and the ice allowing it to slide down the mountain at speed with devastating effects.

Glaciers in Western Tibet

Half the world’s species failing to cope with global warming

Nearly half the species on the planet are failing to cope with global warming the world has already experienced, according to an alarming new study that suggests the sixth mass extinction of animal life in the Earth’s history could take place in as little as 50 years.

A leading evolutionary biologist, Professor John Wiens, found that 47 per cent of nearly 1,000 species had suffered local extinctions linked to climate change with populations absent from areas where they had been found before.

Professor Wiens, who is editor of the Quarterly Review of Biology and a winner of the American Society of Naturalists’ Presidential Award, said the implications for the future were serious because his review showed plants and animals were struggling to deal with the relatively small amount of global warming experienced to date.

So far the world has warmed by about 1C above pre-industrial levels, but it is expected to hit between 2.6 and 4.8C by 2100 if nothing is done to reduce greenhouse gases.

Another problem facing life on Earth is the election of climate science denier Donald Trump as US president.

Professor Wiens, of Arizona University, described this as a “global disaster” and, when asked what he would say to the President-elect if he met him, he joked grimly: “Kill yourself immediately.”

In his study, published in the journal PLOS Biology, the scientist examined academic papers about 976 different species from all over the world that had been studied at least twice, once about 50 years ago and again within the last 10 years.

“In almost half the species looked at, there have been local extinctions already,” he said.

“What it shows is species cannot change fast enough to keep up with a small change in climate. That’s the big implication – even a small change in temperature and they cannot handle it.”

The study looked at 716 different kinds of animals and 260 plants from Asia, Europe, North and South America, and elsewhere.

Local extinctions were found to have occurred among 47.1 per cent of species at the “warm edge” of their traditional range, as it became too hot for them. There were few areas of the planet that were unaffected.

Global Warming

New Zealand losing glaciers due to global warming

New Zealand, a country famous for its tourist attractions and magnificent sceneries, is losing its glaciers due to global warming, a study indicates. Fox and Franz Josef, two stunning glaciers that run from the mountains to a temperate rain forest, are at risk. The ice is melting so fast that it has become too dangerous for tourists to hike onto the glaciers, bringing an end to a tradition dating back to a century. The warm temperatures due to global warming are responsible for the glaciers melting, according to researchers.

Scientists feel that the melting of Fox and Franz Josef is one of the examples how global warming is adversely affecting the environment. Helicopters are now the only means of getting to the glaciers, which till last year could be climbed

A paper published in 2014 in the Global and Planetary Change said that each of the two glaciers had melted by up to 3 kilometres in length since the 1800s, reducing them in height by about 20 percent. The authors also said that due to global warming, the ice has been melting at a rate never recorded before.


Global Warming

How Much Ice Can Antarctica Afford to Lose?

Over the past 20 years, ice shelves in Antarctica that normally support the rest of the continent’s glaciers have been shrinking, and some have disappeared entirely. How much more ice can disintegrate before Antarctic glaciers start freely tumbling into the ocean?

A recent study led by researchers at the Friedrich-Alexander-Universität, in Germany, has mapped out which Antarctic ice shelves are buttressing the most ice and which are more “passive” and thus can stand to lose a large area without any immediate effect on the rest of the ice shelf.

Ice shelves are slabs of ice several hundred meters thick that extend from the edges of the mainland and float on the surface of the sea. They are firmly linked to glaciers and ice streams in mainland Antarctica, which slowly push the floating ice farther seaward, according to the researchers. When the seaward fronts of these ice shelves break off, they form new icebergs and the loss of ice is naturally replenished by the glacier ice from the mainland flowing in.

Some of the ice shelves, however, also push back on the glaciers, providing resistance and reducing the speed at which the glaciers flow into the ocean, said lead study author Johannes Fürst, a research assistant at the Institute of Geography at the Friedrich-Alexander-Universität.

“Ice shelves restrain the outflow from upstream like a plug in a bathtub,” Fürst told Live Science. “If you take the plug out, the water runs out, except this is frozen water and if you take out the ice shelves its flow will accelerate out into the ocean and eventually raise sea levels.”

In 1995, Antarctica’s Larsen A ice shelf collapsed, removing ice cover from an area equivalent to the size of Berlin, according to Fürst. Seven years later, the much larger Larsen B ice shelf also broke apart. While the disintegration of the two shelves did not have an immediate effect on sea levels, the ice loss resulted in upstream glaciers accelerating by up to eight times their normal flow, according to the researchers.

Overall, the researchers found that 13 percent of the continent’s ice shelf area can be classified as passive — an area about twice the size of Spain. This includes the Larsen C ice shelf in the Weddell Sea, which the researchers found is almost entirely a passive ice shelf.

Ice shelves in the Amundsen and Bellingshausen seas, however, are the most susceptible to further ice loss, according to the research findings. They are made up of 7 percent and 5 percent passive ice, respectively, the researchers found.

Global Warming

Record Melt Occurring in Greenland Glaciers

Greenland’s glaciers are retreating under the influence of climate change at least twice as fast as any other time in the past 9,500 years, according to new research.

Scientists from Columbia University’s Earth Institute made the discovery after examining sediment cores from the bottom of a glacier-fed lake in southeastern Greenland.

They then compared the findings to analyses of similar cores from Iceland and Canada’s Baffin Island, and with recent satellite observations.

They found that before the 20th century, the fastest rate of glacier retreat occurred about 8,500 years ago, when the Earth’s position relative to the sun resulted in more summer sunlight warming the Arctic.

Despite less direct summer sunlight in recent years, Greenland’s glaciers have melted at an unprecedented rate because of warming brought on by higher greenhouse gas concentrations.

“If we compare the rate that these glaciers have retreated in the last hundred years to the rate that they retreated when they disappeared between 8,000 and 7,000 years ago, we see the rate of retreat in the last 100 years was about twice what it was under this naturally forced disappearance,” said study co-author William D’Andrea.

The study also provided new evidence for just how sensitive glaciers are to temperature, showing that they responded to past abrupt cooling and warming periods, some of which might have lasted only decades.


Global Warming

Central Asian glaciers shrinking fast

Central Asian glaciers have melted at four times the global average since the early 1960s, shedding 27 per cent of their mass, according to a study released today.

By 2050, warmer temperatures driven by climate change could wipe out half the remaining glacier ice in the Tien Shan mountain range, reported the study, published in Nature Geoscience.

At stake is a critical source of water for people in Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan and Uzbekistan, as well as a section of northwest China.

“Glaciers are actually huge water stores. They can balance water between wet and dry years,” said co-author Doris Duethmann, a researcher at the GFZ German Research Centre for Geosciences in Potsdam.

Tien Shan glaciers have lost an average of 5.4 billion tonnes of ice per year since the 1960s, totalling some 3,000 square kilometres (1,158 square miles).

The rate at which the glaciers shrank greatly accelerated in the 1970s and 1980s.

Climate models point to higher summer temperatures in coming decades along the 2,500 kilometres of the Tien Shan range, thus making the glaciers even more vulnerable, the study said.

Global Warming

Peru’s Glacial Melt-Off Reaches 40 Percent

Glaciers near the southern South American country of Peru have shrunk by 40 percent in the past four decades, which has created a number of high-altitude lakes.

Climate change is the cause for the melt-off, which has spawned nearly 1,000 new high-altitude lakes since 1980, the Peruvian government said Wednesday.

The glaciers in Peru are small compared to those found in the north and south poles, and are at a greater risk of disappearing. In addition, 70 percent of the world’s tropical glaciers are found in Peru, and they are extremely sensitive to the warming temperatures associated with climate change.

In the coming years, 90 percent of the 2,679 glaciers could disappear, the country’s water authority said, updating its report of glacier inventory that was last issued in the 1970s.

Those at greater risk of melting away are smaller than 1-square-kilometre, and spread over 19 snow-capped mountain ranges of the Andes.

Officials said 996 lakes have emerged in the Andes since the last count in 1980, which increases the total to 8,355.

They are the majority source of the country’s drinking water.

Global Warming

Global warming is behind disturbing retreat of Peruvian glaciers: Study

Stretching across a vast volcanic plain in Peru, the Quelccaya Ice Cap is the tropics’ largest sheet of ice—for now. Climate shifts are taking their toll, according to scientists who note that the glacier has been not only losing ice over the last few decades but doing so over an accelerating rate. And following a study recently published in the journal Geology, many scientists are now more certain than ever that the ice loss is due to rising temperatures.

It may hardly sound like a surprise that a glacier’s retreat would be due to warming climate, but researchers monitoring the Quelccaya and other shrinking glaciers in the tropics have had their honest doubts. Some have hitherto suggested that decreased snowfall might be the culprit, for example.

The Geology study, however, identifies temperature as the first and foremost driving factor. Led by Justin Stroup, a Dartmouth College doctoral candidate in Earth sciences; and Meredith Kelly, a Dartmouth assistant professor of Earth sciences; the study’s research team compiled extensive data on the Qori Kalis, a valley glacier that is a major outlet for the Quelccaya Ice Cap, and constructed a timeline of this glacier’s waxing and waning across the past 500 years.

Next, they compared the glacier’s movements to records of ice accumulation on the Quelccaya plateau. Long cylinders of ice previously drilled and extracted by Lonnie Thompson, an Ohio State University geologist, were the source of these records.

If snowfall is the main factor behind the ice gain or loss, then the valley glacier should gain ice when more ice accumulates on the Quelccaya, and lose ice when the Quelccaya’s ice accumulation hits a dry spell. Stroup, Kelly, and their team found the opposite: The valley glacier lost ice during some periods of high accumulation and gained ice during some periods when the Quelccaya’s ice accumulation was low.

Temperature, not snowfall, is evidently the chief driver, according to the researchers. They have the backing of Thompson, who has long argued that the glacier could be thought of as a large thermometer.

Their conclusion is a troubling one as far as this glacier is concerned. Thompson’s analyses indicate that in the last 25 years, the glacier has lost a volume of ice that took 1,600 years to build up.

This glacier is no anomaly, by the way. Land ice is melting across the tropics and throughout the planet, and showing marked increases in the rate of ice loss during the last three decades. Quelccaya could be a microcosm of melting trends throughout the globe, according to the researchers, who plan to conduct further studies of more glaciers elsewhere on the globe.

Screen Shot 2014 02 27 at 2 55 04 PM


Many of the world’s glaciers and ice sheets are retreating in the face of global warming, but a few are stable or growing — including glaciers in the western Himalaya Mountains, according to a new report. The mountains in the region form the headwaters of several major river systems — including the Ganges, Mekong, Yangtze, and Yellow rivers — which serve as sources of drinking water and irrigation supplies for about 1.5 billion people.

Himalaya ali 2009359

The US National Weather Service in Los Angeles released two notices of triple-digit record-breaking temperatures in Long Beach over the weekend. On Friday, a high of 104 degrees was recorded, breaking the old record of 96 set in 1979.