Study: Future of western glaciers is grim

Study: Future of western glaciers is grim

SOURCE: K5 News Seattle DATE: October 8, 2019 SNIP: The glaciers of the Olympic Mountains and Cascades are not only breath-taking to look at, they’re also critical to our environment as we know it. “Melting glaciers feed high alpine streams and ecosystems, and supply water for agriculture,” explained Andrew Fountain, a glaciologist at Portland State University. There’s about 5,000 glaciers in the Western U.S. and according to Fountain they are all disappearing. “Yeah, it’s going to be a different world.” For more than a decade, Fountain and researchers from across the west have studied the thousands of glaciers. Most recently, they looked at the ones in Washington’s Olympic National Park. “We use satellites that photograph the earth as well as aerial photographs,” explained Fountain. “From that we can track how glaciers are growing or shrinking.” And they found they are all shrinking. Take for example the Lillian Glacier. In 1905, the glacier was expansive. But an aerial photo taken in 2010 showed the glacier is nearly gone. “With business as usual, the glaciers will disappear probably by 2070, 2080,” said Fountain. And the result of all that ice melt? “We won’t have those glaciers replenishing our water supply during the late summer when we don’t have any rain, so those streams will be more subject to...
Rising Seas Aren’t Even the Scariest Part of Climate Change in the Oceans

Rising Seas Aren’t Even the Scariest Part of Climate Change in the Oceans

SOURCE: Mother Jones DATE: September 25, 2019 SNIP: Climate change has already taken an irreversible toll on our oceans and frozen places, warns a major new report from the United Nations’ Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. Much of the carbon pollution we’ve pumped into the air has gone directly into the world’s seas: They have absorbed 90 percent of the excess heat from the atmosphere, warming without pause for the past 50 years. Because oceans are so unfathomably big and complex—covering two-thirds of Earth’s surface—that warming has consequences for the entire planet. The IPCC Special Report on Ocean and Cryosphere In A Changing Climate is a collaboration among 130 scientists around the world who have assembled data from more than 7,000 papers. The new report manages to paint an even bleaker picture, showing that the oceans have been expanding, acidifying, and losing oxygen at an accelerated rate. One major takeaway from the report: The seas are rising twice as fast as twentieth century averages. The ocean is also heating up twice as fast, absorbing more carbon and acidifying. “The rate of climate change has actually gone up,” lead author of the report’s chapter on oceans, Nate Bindoff of the University of Tasmania, said in a call with reporters. This acceleration of warming and acidification means a cascade of impacts on weather and marine life, such as coral reefs, some of which we still don’t fully understand. The IPCC looks at a range of possible climate-change scenarios, from unabated pollution to dramatic reforms in the next decade. Right now, though, the world is on the most dangerous warming path. Our...
Mont Blanc: Glacier in danger of collapse, experts warn

Mont Blanc: Glacier in danger of collapse, experts warn

SOURCE: BBC DATE: September 25, 2019 SNIP: Italian authorities have closed roads and evacuated mountain huts after experts warned that part of a glacier on Mont Blanc could collapse. About 250,000 cubic metres of ice are in danger of breaking away from the Planpincieux glacier on the Grandes Jorasses peak, officials said. The mayor of the nearby town of Courmayeur said global warming was changing the mountain. The Mont Blanc massif is Western Europe’s highest mountain range. On Tuesday, Courmayeur Mayor Stefano Miserocchi signed an order closing roads in the Val Ferret on the Italian side of Mont Blanc, after experts warned that a section of the glacier was sliding at speeds of 50-60cm (16-23in) per day. Experts from the Valle d’Aosta regional government and the Fondazione Montagna Sicura (Safe Mountain Foundation) say it is impossible to predict exactly when the mass of ice would...

2019 Annual Assessment of North Cascades Glaciers Finds ‘Shocking Loss’ of Volume

SOURCE: Glacier Hub DATE: September 10, 2019 SNIP: The summer of 2019 found the North Cascade Glacier Climate Project in the field for the 36th consecutive summer monitoring the response of North Cascade glaciers to climate change. This long term monitoring program was initiated partly in response to a challenge in 1983 from Stephen Schneider to begin monitoring glacier systems before and as climate change became a dominant variable in their behavior. The field team was comprised of Clara Deck, Ann Hill, Abby Hudak, Jill Pelto, and myself. All of us have worked on other glaciers. The bottom line for 2019 is the shocking loss of glacier volume. Ann Hill, University of Maine graduate student observed, “Despite having experience studying glaciers in southeast Alaska and in Svalbard, I was shocked by the amount of thinning each glacier has endured through the last two and a half...
Climate crisis: Greenland’s ice faces melting ‘death sentence’

Climate crisis: Greenland’s ice faces melting ‘death sentence’

SOURCE: BBC DATE: September 3, 2019 SNIP: Greenland’s massive ice sheet may have melted by a record amount this year, scientists have warned. During this year alone, it lost enough ice to raise the average global sea level by more than a millimetre. Researchers say they’re “astounded” by the acceleration in melting and fear for the future of cities on coasts around the world. One glacier in southern Greenland has thinned by as much as 100 metres since I last filmed on it back in 2004. Another revelation is that the ice is not only being melted by the air, as the atmosphere heats up, but also by warmer water reaching underneath the fronts of the glaciers. One Nasa scientist describes the ice as being under a hair-dryer and at the same time also on a cooker. One of the scientists studying the ice sheet, Dr Jason Box of the Geological Survey of Denmark and Greenland (GEUS), says he’s unnerved by the potential dangers and that coastal planners need to “brace themselves”. “Now that I’m starting to understand more of the consequences, it’s actually keeping me awake at night because I realise the significance of this place around the world and the livelihoods that are already affected by sea level rise,” he told me. According to Dr Box, it’s the recent increase in the average temperature that’s being felt in Greenland’s ice: “Already effectively that’s a death sentence for the Greenland ice sheet because also going forward in time we’re expecting temperatures only to climb,” he said. “So, we’re losing Greenland – it’s really a question of how...