Alaskan glaciers melting 100 times faster than previously thought

Alaskan glaciers melting 100 times faster than previously thought

SOURCE: National Geographic DATE: July 25, 2019 SNIP: A new way of measuring how some glaciers melt below the surface of the water has uncovered a surprising realization: Some glaciers are melting a hundred times faster than scientists thought they were. In a new study published today in Science, a team of oceanographers and glaciologists unpeeled a new layer of understanding of tidewater glaciers—glaciers that end in the ocean—and their dynamic processes. “They’ve really discovered that the melt that’s happening is fairly dramatically different from some of the assumptions we’ve had,” says Twila Moon, a glaciologist at the National Snow and Ice Data Center at the University of Colorado-Boulder who was uninvolved with the study. Some of this calving and glacial melt is a normal process that glaciers undergo during seasonal transitions from winter to summer, and even through the summer. But a warming climate accelerates glacier melting across the globe, potentially through melting across the surface of the glacier, but also through underwater melting. Glaciers can extend hundreds of feet below the surface, explained Ellyn Enderlin, a glaciologist at Boise State University who was not involved with the study. Finding higher rates of submarine melting tells us that “glaciers are a lot more sensitive to ocean change than we’ve even thought.” Understanding the melting processes and calculating the amount of melt accurately is essential for planning for sea level...
Glacier in Russian Arctic Goes From Moving 60 Feet a Year to 60 Feet a Day

Glacier in Russian Arctic Goes From Moving 60 Feet a Year to 60 Feet a Day

SOURCE: Weather.com and NASA DATE: April 8, 2019 SNIP: Satellite images of dramatic changes in a glacier in the Russian High Arctic is forcing scientists to rethink how cold-based glaciers work. Cold-based glaciers exist at high latitudes that receive little snow or rain. They rarely move more than a few yards per year. University of Colorado Boulder glaciologist Michael Willis was studying the Vavilov Ice Cap on October Revolution Island in the Kara Sea north of Siberia when he discovered the glacier began sliding dozens of times faster than is typical, according to a blog post from NASA. “The fact that an apparently stable, cold-based glacier suddenly went from moving 20 meters per year to 20 meters per day was extremely unusual, perhaps unprecedented,” Willis said. “The numbers here are simply nuts. Before this happened, as far as I knew, cold-based glaciers simply didn’t do that … couldn’t do that.” “This event has forced us to rethink how cold-based glaciers work,” Willis said. “It may be that they can respond more quickly to warming climate or changes at their bases than we have...
Majority of glaciers in Western Canada will likely disappear in next 50 years

Majority of glaciers in Western Canada will likely disappear in next 50 years

SOURCE: CTV News DATE: December 27, 2018 SNIP: Climate change is prompting glaciers in British Columbia, Yukon and Alberta to retreat faster than at any time in history, threatening to raise water levels and create deserts, scientists say. David Hik, an ecology professor at Simon Fraser University, said the region is one of the hotspots for warming and the magnitude of change in the glaciers is dramatic. “Probably 80 per cent of the mountain glaciers in Alberta and B.C. will disappear in the next 50 years,” he said. The Peyto Glacier in the Rocky Mountains and part of Banff National Park has lost about 70 per cent of its mass in the last 50 years, Hik said. While the melt increases water levels and sets off coastal erosion and flooding, it also causes dry areas and dust bowls. As glaciers recede, more water flows downhill, but the further the ice sheets retreat, the less water there is to go down stream and soon the area begins to dry. The melt also changes the way water flows and where it accumulates, creating lakes, wetlands or desert-like conditions. Outside of the ice sheets of Antarctica and Greenland, Canada has more glacier cover than any other...
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...
Climate change is melting the French Alps, say mountaineers

Climate change is melting the French Alps, say mountaineers

SOURCE: The Guardian DATE: August 24, 2018 SNIP: “Global climate change has serious and directly observable consequences in high mountains,” says Vincent Neirinck from Mountain Wilderness, a campaign group that works to preserve mountain environments around the world. One of the consequences of climate change is the ongoing retreat of glaciers. “In the Alps, the glacier surfaces have shrunk by half between 1900 and 2012 with a strong acceleration of the melting processes since the 1980s,” says Jacques Mourey, a climber and scientist who is researching the impact of climate change on the mountains above Chamonix. Another key impact of climate change in the mountains is that it is leading to an increase in the number of rockfalls; more than 550 occurred in the Mont Blanc massif alone between 2007 and 2015. The reason, explains Mourey, is that the permafrost that lies within cracks of rocks and cements them together is now melting. “As the permafrost melts, whole sections of rock become destabilised and more prone to collapse.” This is what caused the destruction of the iconic Bonatti pillar, a massive column of rock and popular climbing spot that collapsed in the scorching hot summer of 2005. Significantly, climate change is happening almost twice as fast in high mountains as compared to the rest of the...