East Antarctica glacial stronghold melting as seas warm

East Antarctica glacial stronghold melting as seas warm

SOURCE: The Guardian DATE: December 11, 2018 SNIP: A group of glaciers spanning an eighth of the East Antarctica coastline are being melted by the warming seas, scientists have discovered. This Antarctic region stores a vast amount of ice, which, if lost, would in the long-term raise global sea level by tens of metres and drown coastal settlements around the world. Freezing temperatures meant the East Antarctica region was until recently considered largely stable but the research indicates that the area is being affected by climate change. East Antarctica is extremely remote and relatively little studied. What happens to the glaciers will depend on how exposed to warmer water they are, and that depends on the shape of the land beneath them and the sea bed ahead of them. The discovery could mean much higher sea level rises than anticipated, said Chris Fogwill, a professor at Keele University in England, who was not part of the Nasa...
‘We’ve never seen this’: massive Canadian glaciers shrinking rapidly

‘We’ve never seen this’: massive Canadian glaciers shrinking rapidly

SOURCE: The Guardian DATE: October 30, 2018 SNIP: Scientists in Canada have warned that massive glaciers in the Yukon territory are shrinking even faster than would be expected from a warming climate – and bringing dramatic changes to the region. The rate of warming in the north is double that of the average global temperature increase, concluded the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration in its annual Arctic Report Card, which called the warming “unprecedented”. In their recent State of the Mountains report published earlier in the summer, the Canadian Alpine Club found that the Saint Elias mountains – which span British Columbia, the Yukon and Alaska – are losing ice faster than the rest of the country. The accelerating melt of the glacier has resulted in major shifts to water sources at lower elevations. In 2016, the meltwaters of the glacier shifted dramatically away from the Slims river, cutting off critical water supplies to Kluane Lake – a Unesco world heritage site. Since the diversion, water levels at the lake have dropped more than 6.6ft – stranding thousands of fish from their natural spawning rivers. Dust storms have begun to flare up along sections of the well-travelled Alaska Highway – at times halting traffic, the result of a dry river bed covered in glacial silt. “We’re seeing a 20% difference in area coverage of the glaciers in Kluane national park and reserve and the rest of the Unesco world heritage site [over a 60-year period],” Diane Wilson, a field unit superintendent at Parks Canada, told the CBC. “We’ve never seen that. It’s outside the scope of...
Glaciers Falling on Tourists: Yet Another Danger of Climate Change

Glaciers Falling on Tourists: Yet Another Danger of Climate Change

SOURCE: The Atlantic DATE: September 11, 2018 SNIP: In the summer of 1987, a woman visiting Alaska was crushed by a 1,000-pound chunk of ice. According to news reports at the time, Thais Grabenauer, 59, had been taking pictures with her husband at the foot of Exit Glacier, a towering wall of ice that’s one of the most popular attractions in Kenai Fjords National Park. A half-ton piece of the glacier calved off as the couple was snapping, killing Grabenauer and injuring her husband. It was one of those wrong place, wrong time tragedies that seem unlikely to happen again. But in the three decades since Grabenauer’s death, it has happened again—in Alaska and around the rest of the world. In 2009, for instance, two brothers crossed a safety barrier on New Zealand’s Fox Glacier and were buried under a collapsing ice shelf. On a single day last July, two people were killed at separate glaciers in south-central Alaska: A 32-year-old woman was crushed by a collapsing ice ceiling on Byron Glacier, and a 5-year-old boy was hit by a rock falling from Worthington Glacier. Deaths like these remain rare, but they’re also telling cases of a broader trend. In recent years, people have been increasingly flocking to the world’s glaciers. This boom in “glacier tourism” seems to be dually spurred, at least in part, by climate change: For one, people seem eager to glimpse the majestic monuments of ice before they melt away. And as ice sheets disappear, many glaciers are becoming more accessible—and unstable. The result is that places such as Exit Glacier are not only witnessing...
Antarctica’s Ice Loss Is Speeding Up, with Sharp Acceleration in Past 5 Years

Antarctica’s Ice Loss Is Speeding Up, with Sharp Acceleration in Past 5 Years

SOURCE: Inside Climate News and Nature DATE: June 13, 2018 SNIP: The most complete assessment to date of Antarctica’s ice sheets confirms that the meltdown accelerated sharply in the past five years, and there is no sign of a slowdown. That means sea level is expected to rise at a rate that will catch some coastal communities unprepared despite persistent warnings, according to the international team of scientists publishing a series of related studies this week in the journal Nature. The scientists found that the rate of ice loss over the past five years had tripled compared to the previous two decades, suggesting an additional 6 inches of sea level rise from Antarctica alone by 2100, on top of the 2 feet already projected from all sources, including Greenland. Between 1992, when detailed satellite measurements started, and 2012, Antarctica lost about 76 billion tons of ice per year. But since 2012, that rate has tripled to about 219 billion tons of ice loss per year, the scientists found. Another study, published June 13 in the journal Science Advances, raises even more concerns about the vulnerability of Antarctic ice to global warming. Data from radar and laser readings of the ice enabled scientists with the University of Texas at Austin and the University of Waterloo to map a vast network of channels in the base of many ice sheets formed by intrusions of warm water. Some are several kilometers wide, said University of Texas at Austin researcher Jamin Greenbaum. They found the channels everywhere they looked, including beneath the ice shelf of the Totten Glacier, in East Antarctica, as well...
Unprecedented U.S.-British project launches to study the world’s most dangerous glacier

Unprecedented U.S.-British project launches to study the world’s most dangerous glacier

SOURCE: The Washington Post DATE: April 30, 2018 SNIP: The largest U.S.-British Antarctic mission in seven decades officially launched at an event in Cambridge on Monday, as the two countries pooled dollars and scientific resources for missions to West Antarctica’s Thwaites glacier — a Florida-size ice body that, scientists fear, could flood the world’s coastlines in our lifetimes. “For global sea-level change in the next century, this Thwaites glacier is almost the entire story,” said David Holland, a geoscientist at New York University. Thwaites is wide and deep and flows out of the heart of West Antarctica, a marine ice sheet that could contribute about 10 feet of global sea-level rise. Thwaites is losing ice rapidly, with its 50 billion tons per year currently driving 4 percent of global sea-level rise, and sits perched in 2,600-foot-deep waters atop a seafloor “bump” that scientists fear is the last thing holding it in place. Thwaites is a key part of the reason that recent computer modeling studies have predicted that the Antarctic could double the previously projected rate of sea-level rise during this century. It’s among the most difficult places on Earth for humans to...