Pakistan’s glaciers face new threat: Highway’s black carbon

Pakistan’s glaciers face new threat: Highway’s black carbon

SOURCE: Reuters DATE: November 3, 2017 SNIP: The Karakoram Highway has been around since 1982, but the Chinese-funded upgrade – which opened in 2015 – has turned a once treacherous track into a 15-foot-wide paved road. A series of tunnels, cut through the mountains, have reduced the driving time to the Khunjerab Pass from Gilgit, the capital of Gilgit-Balistan region, from eight hours to four hours. Now trucks are pouring over the border, laden with Chinese goods and equipment headed to Sost, the first border town on the Pakistani side, and then further down the 1,300-kilometre (800-mile) highway toward the port of Gwadar. The highway upgrade, part of the ambitious China Pakistan Economic Corridor, “has two impacts – one is positive and the other negative,” said Qamar-uz-Zaman Chaudhry, the author of Pakistan’s national climate change policy. “It will bring in much-needed infrastructure. But the carbon emissions and the soot going into the atmosphere will definitely increase – and our mountain glaciers will melt. We need to do a comprehensive study on the impacts and then develop a strategy,” he said. [D]ata gathered over the last 50 years shows that all but around 120 of the glaciers are showing signs of melting, meteorological officials said. Warming temperatures are to blame for much of the melting but so-called “black carbon” – black soot released from diesel vehicle exhaust, factories, open fires and cookstoves – also is to blame, experts say. The highway upgrade is just part a huge Chinese investment push into infrastructure in Pakistan – including a series of new coal-fired power plants – under the China Pakistan Economic Corridor...
Intensifying Winds Could Increase East Antarctica’s Contribution to Sea Level Rise

Intensifying Winds Could Increase East Antarctica’s Contribution to Sea Level Rise

SOURCE: University of Texas News DATE: November 1, 2017 SNIP: Totten Glacier, the largest glacier in East Antarctica, is being melted from below by warm water that reaches the ice when winds over the ocean are strong—a cause for concern because the glacier holds more than 11 feet of sea level rise and acts as a plug that helps lock in the ice of the East Antarctic Ice Sheet. Research led by The University of Texas at Austin has found that wind is responsible for bringing warm water to Totten’s underbelly, causing the glacier to melt from below. This finding helps answer the question of what causes Totten to speed up some years and slow down in others. Climate change is expected to increase the intensity of winds over the Southern Ocean throughout the next century, and the new findings show that Totten Glacier will probably respond to the changing winds. During the next century, winds are expected to intensify and migrate closer to the East Antarctic coast as a result of increased atmospheric greenhouse gas. This study suggests that as winds over the Southern Ocean intensify, so will Totten Glacier’s contribution to global sea level...
New Greenland Maps Show More Glaciers at Risk

New Greenland Maps Show More Glaciers at Risk

SOURCE: NASA DATE: November 1, 2017 SNIP: New maps of Greenland’s coastal seafloor and bedrock beneath its massive ice sheet show that two to four times as many coastal glaciers are at risk of accelerated melting as previously thought. Researchers at the University of California at Irvine (UCI), NASA and 30 other institutions have published the most comprehensive, accurate and high-resolution relief maps ever made of Greenland’s bedrock and coastal seafloor. The new maps reveal that two to four times more oceanfront glaciers extend deeper than 600 feet (200 meters) below sea level than earlier maps showed. That’s bad news, because the top 600 feet of water around Greenland comes from the Arctic and is relatively cold. The water below it comes from farther south and is 6 to 8 degrees Fahrenheit (3 to 4 degrees Celsius) warmer than the water above. Deeper-seated glaciers are exposed to this warmer water, which melts them more rapidly. OMG Principal Investigator Josh Willis of JPL, who was not involved in producing the maps, said, “These results suggest that Greenland’s ice is more threatened by changing climate than we had...
Rivers Are Flooding Earlier in Parts of Europe as Climate Changes

Rivers Are Flooding Earlier in Parts of Europe as Climate Changes

SOURCE: Inside Climate News DATE: Aug 10, 2017 SNIP: Spring flooding along many of Europe’s rivers is starting weeks earlier now than it did 50 years ago, and some winter flooding is starting later as the climate changes, a new study shows. In Scandinavia and the Baltics—where snowmelt is the main driver of high water—spring floods are coming a week earlier than they did 50 years ago. Along the North Atlantic coast from Portugal to England, winter flooding in many places occurs 15 to 36 days earlier, driven by changes in the timing of winter rain storms and changes in soil moisture. “The trends we found are in line with projections from climate models. We can see climate change very clearly,” said co-author Berit Arheimer of the Swedish Meteorological and Hydrological...
Waves Rippled Through Greenland’s Ice. That’s Ominous

Waves Rippled Through Greenland’s Ice. That’s Ominous

SOURCE: Climate Central DATE: May 26, 2017 SNIP: On its surface, the Greenland ice sheet is a vast expanse of seemingly immovable ice. But beneath the monotonous stretch of white, scientists have discovered evidence of waves rippling through one of its outlet glaciers and roiling its innards. The waves, observed during the two most intense melt seasons on record, sent an unprecedented cascade of ice and water rushing into the sea and warping the very bedrock upon which the ice sits. As temperatures continue to rise, scientists fear that massive waves of ice could expedite Greenland’s melt even further, pushing sea levels...