New Zealand glaciers turn brown from Australian bushfires’ smoke, ash and dust

New Zealand glaciers turn brown from Australian bushfires’ smoke, ash and dust

SOURCE: The Guardian DATE: January 1, 2020 SNIP: Snow and glaciers in New Zealand have turned brown after being exposed to dust from the Australian bushfires, with one expert saying the incident could increase glacier melt this season by as much as 30%. On Wednesday many parts of the South Island woke up to an orange haze and red sun, after smoke from the Victorian and New South Wales blazes drifted east on Tuesday night, smothering many parts of the island for most of the day. On Thursday, pictures taken from the Southern Alps showed the smoke haze carrying particles of dust had tinged snow-capped mountain peaks and glaciers a shade of caramel, with former prime minister Helen Clark expressing concern for the long-lasting environmental impacts on the mountains. “Impact of ash on glaciers is likely to accelerate melting,” Clark tweeted. “How one country’s tragedy has spillover effects.” There are more than 3,000 glaciers in New Zealand and since the 1970s scientists have recorded them shrinking by nearly a third, with current estimates predicting they will disappear entirely by the end of the century. Professor Andrew Mackintosh is head of the school of earth, atmosphere and environment at Monash University, and the former director of the Antarctic Research Centre. He said in nearly two decades of studying glaciers in New Zealand he had never seen such a quantity of dust transported across the Tasman, and the current event had the potential to increase this season’s glacier melt by 20-30%, although Mackintosh stressed this was no more than an estimate. Mackintosh said the whiteness of snow and ice reflected the...
Climate change: Greenland ice melt ‘is accelerating’

Climate change: Greenland ice melt ‘is accelerating’

SOURCE: BBC DATE: December 10, 2019 SNIP: Greenland is losing ice seven times faster than it was in the 1990s. The assessment comes from an international team of polar scientists who’ve reviewed all the satellite observations over a 26-year period. They say Greenland’s contribution to sea-level rise is currently tracking what had been regarded as a pessimistic projection of the future. It means an additional 7cm of ocean rise could now be expected by the end of the century from Greenland alone. This threatens to put many millions more people in low-lying coastal regions at risk of flooding. It’s estimated roughly a billion live today less than 10m above current high-tide lines, including 250 million below 1m. “Storms, if they happen against a baseline of higher seas – they will break flood defences,” said Prof Andy Shepherd, of Leeds University. “The simple formula is that around the planet, six million people are brought into a flooding situation for every centimetre of sea-level rise. So, when you hear about a centimetre rise, it does have impacts,” he told BBC News. Whereas in the early 90s, the rate of loss was equivalent to about 1mm per decade, it is now running at roughly 7mm per decade. Imbie team-member Dr Ruth Mottram is affiliated to the Danish Meteorological Institute. She said: “Greenland is losing ice in two main ways – one is by surface melting and that water runs off into the ocean; and the other is by the calving of icebergs and then melting where the ice is in contact with the ocean. The long-term contribution from these two processes is...
Mighty glacier finally succumbs to climate change

Mighty glacier finally succumbs to climate change

SOURCE: The Sydney Morning Herald DATE: November 8, 2019 SNIP: One of the world’s thickest mountain glaciers is finally succumbing to global warming, a new analysis reports. The Taku Glacier, located north of Juneau, Alaska, has started to retreat as temperatures rise, said Mauri Pelto, a glaciologist at Nichols College in Massachusetts. Up until now, of the 250 glaciers that he has studied, all had retreated except one: Taku Glacier. But an analysis shows that Taku has lost mass and joined the rest of the retreating glaciers. “This is a big deal for me because I had this one glacier I could hold on to,” Pelto told NASA’s Earth Observatory. “But not anymore. This makes the score climate change: 250, and alpine glaciers: 0.” New photos released by NASA this week show that the melting of Taku has at last become visible. Taku is an extremely thick glacier: in fact, it is one of the thickest known alpine glaciers in the world, measuring nearly 1500 metres from surface to bed. A study about the glacier’s retreat was published last month in the journal Remote Sensing. Overall, thanks to global warming, Earth’s glaciers continue to melt away, losing up to 390 billion tonnes of ice and snow per year, a study published earlier this year suggests. The largest losses were glaciers in Alaska, followed by the melting ice fields in southern South America and glaciers in the Arctic. At 3885 square kilometres, the Juneau ice field is a third larger than the US state of Rhode Island, stretching from the Pacific Ocean into Canada, according to the Anchorage Daily News....
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...