A Giant Iceberg Parked Offshore. It’s Stunning, but Villagers Hit the Road.

A Giant Iceberg Parked Offshore. It’s Stunning, but Villagers Hit the Road.

SOURCE: The New York Times DATE: July 13, 2018 SNIP: It was a striking sight: a huge iceberg looming over a tiny Arctic village. Ice is ubiquitous along Greenland’s coast, but this giant has put the inhabitants of the village, Innaarsuit, population 169, on edge. Locals fear that a chunk of the iceberg might tumble into the ocean and unleash an enormous wave on the settlement. Big icebergs don’t always melt politely into the ocean. They tend to break apart in spectacular fashion. “It’s not a peaceful process,” said Joerg Schaefer, a climate researcher at Columbia University’s Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory. Thirty-three people were evacuated farther inland. People were also advised to get their boats out of the way. “They lose their boats, they can’t go hunting or fishing,” said Gideon Quist, a police inspector in Nuuk, the capital. The iceberg is the biggest the villagers have seen, a member of the local council told Greenland’s national radio. Satellite data indicated that it measured roughly 650 feet wide, rose almost 300 feet into the air and weighed up to 11 million tons, an expert from the Danish Meteorological Institute told DR, the Danish broadcaster. Greenland’s ice sheet is losing ice at an alarming pace, and the number of icebergs released into the ocean is expected to increase, at least over the coming decades, Dr. Schaefer...
Algae Growth Reduces Reflectivity, Enhances Greenland Ice Sheet Melting

Algae Growth Reduces Reflectivity, Enhances Greenland Ice Sheet Melting

SOURCE: American Geophysical Union (AGU) DATE: December 20, 2017 SNIP: New research shows algae growing on the Greenland ice sheet, the Earth’s second-largest ice sheet, significantly reduce the surface reflectivity of the ice sheet’s bare ice area and contribute more to its melting than dust or black carbon. The new findings could influence scientists’ understanding of ice sheet melting and projections of future sea level rise, according to the study’s authors. The new study quantitatively assessed how surface ice algae contribute to darkening of the ice sheet, and found the algae reduce the ice sheet’s albedo significantly more than non-algal materials, like mineral particles and black carbon. Algal darkening is responsible for 5 percent to 10 percent of the total ice sheet melt each summer, according to the new research published in Geophysical Research Letters, a journal of the American Geophysical Union. Absorption of sunlight is responsible for most of the ice melt in Greenland, according to Jason Box, a climatologist at The Geological Survey of Denmark and Greenland and the other lead author of the new study. Microbes such as algal cells colonize the ice and can accumulate over time given enough sunlight, water and nutrients. Surface ice algae produce dark pigments to protect themselves from high intensity radiation, further darkening the sheet surface, Marek Stibal, a cryosphere ecologist at Charles University in Prague, Czech Republic and one of the lead authors of the new study, said. The new study didn’t estimate how much more ice could melt in the future due to algal darkening. But the results can lay the groundwork to devise more accurate projections of...