Global Warming

Alaskan Glacier Melting at Fastest Pace in 400 Years

One of the USA’s tallest glaciers is melting at the fastest pace in 400 years, a new study reports. The study said melting on Mount Hunter in Alaska’s Denali National Park can be linked mainly to rising summer temperatures in the region. “We have not seen snow melt like this in at least four centuries,” said study lead author Dominic Winski, a glaciologist at Dartmouth College.

New ice cores taken from the top of Mt. Hunter show summers there now are least 2 to 3 degrees Fahrenheit warmer than they were during the 18th, 19th and early 20th centuries. Specifically, the ice core record shows 60 times more snow melt occurs today than did 150 years ago.

Ice cores are good records of past climate because the water, snow and air in the ice contain evidence of atmospheric conditions over hundreds to thousands of years, the Byrd Polar Research Center said. The seasonal snowfall and its gradual change to ice provide an annual record of snowfall amounts and atmospheric conditions throughout the year.

New Zealand Steps Up Climate Change Fight With Oil Exploration Ban

New Zealand will stop granting offshore oil and gas exploration permits, saying it is committed to playing its part in tackling climate change. It will limit the 2018 offer of exploration permits to onshore acreage in the oil-rich province of Taranaki.


Global Warming

Totten Glacier Found to be Largely floating on Warming Ocean

More of one of Antarctica’s largest and most important glaciers is floating on top of the ocean than previously thought, researchers say, which could have a significant impact on the rise of global sea levels.

The new research from the Australian Antarctic Program has found the Totten Glacier, located in the southern continent’s east, could be affected more by warming ocean temperatures because more of the glacier is directly in contact with the ocean, and much less is sitting on rock than originally thought.

Global Warming

Arctic – Annual Report Card

A new “report card” on how climate change is affecting the Arctic reveals that permafrost is now thawing more quickly, as polar sea ice melts at its fastest pace in 1,500 years.

“2017 continued to show us we are on this deepening trend where the Arctic is a very different place than it was even a decade ago,” said NOAA arctic researcher Jeremy Mathis.

He told the annual meeting of the American Geophysical Union that what’s happening in the Arctic is affecting the rest of the planet.

Earlier studies found that changes in Arctic sea ice and temperature can alter the jet stream — a major influence on weather across North America, Europe and Asia.

“The Arctic has traditionally been the refrigerator to the planet, but the door of the refrigerator has been left open,” Mathis said.

Decrease in Himalayan glaciers

Researchers from the Indian Institute of Technology and National Institute of Hydrology, Roorkee have found that the number of glaciers had gone down from 103 to 97 and a total area of 41.2 ± 10.5 km2 (18.1 ± 4.1%) lost in a short span of 35 years- between 1976 and 2011.

Smaller glaciers were observed to have lost more of their surface area than large glaciers, making them more sensitive climate change indicators.

The study warns of a long-term decline of water resources and impending flash floods due to the glacial lake outburst as warming climate may accelerate the glacial recession in the area. The researchers studied changes to glaciers in the Baspa basin, western Himalayan region and have also determined the factors affecting this change.

Indian Himalaya is home to about 9675 glaciers, most of them unexplored. Only two glaciers in the Indian Himalaya have been monitored properly and their mass balance studied- Chhota Shigri and Dokriani.

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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.