Scientists discover 91 volcanoes below Antarctic ice sheet

Scientists discover 91 volcanoes below Antarctic ice sheet

SOURCE: The Guardian DATE: Aug 12, 2017 SNIP: Scientists have uncovered the largest volcanic region on Earth – two kilometres below the surface of the vast ice sheet that covers west Antarctica. The project, by Edinburgh University researchers, has revealed almost 100 volcanoes – with the highest as tall as the Eiger, which stands at almost 4,000 metres in Switzerland. “If one of these volcanoes were to erupt it could further destabilise west Antarctica’s ice sheets,” said glacier expert Robert Bingham, one of the paper’s authors. “Anything that causes the melting of ice – which an eruption certainly would – is likely to speed up the flow of ice into the sea.” The discovery is particularly important because the activity of these volcanoes could have crucial implications for the rest of the planet. If one erupts, it could further destabilise some of the region’s ice sheets, which have already been affected by global warming. Meltwater outflows into the Antarctic ocean could trigger sea level rises. “We just don’t know about how active these volcanoes have been in the past,” Bingham said. However, he pointed to one alarming trend: “The most volcanism that is going in the world at present is in regions that have only recently lost their glacier covering – after the end of the last ice age. These places include Iceland and Alaska.” “Theory suggests that this is occurring because, without ice sheets on top of them, there is a release of pressure on the regions’ volcanoes and they become more...

Icebreaker sets record for earliest transit of the Northwest Passage

SOURCE: CBS News, AP News DATE: July 29, 2017 SNIP: After 24 days at sea and a journey spanning more than 6,214 miles, the Finnish icebreaker MSV Nordica has set a new record for the earliest transit of the fabled Northwest Passage. The once-forbidding route through the Arctic, linking the Pacific and the Atlantic oceans, has been opening up sooner and for a longer period each summer due to climate change. Sea ice that foiled famous explorers and blocked the passage to all but the hardiest ships has slowly been melting away in one of the most visible effects of man-made global...
Sea level fears as Greenland darkens

Sea level fears as Greenland darkens

SOURCE: BBC News DATE: July 24, 2017 SNIP: Scientists are “very worried” that the melting of the Greenland ice sheet could accelerate and raise sea levels more than expected. They say warmer conditions are encouraging algae to grow and darken the surface. A five-year UK research project known as Black and Bloom is under way to investigate the different species of algae and how they might spread, and then to use this knowledge to improve computer projections of future sea level rise. The possibility of biologically inspired melting was not included in the estimates for sea level rise published by the UN’s climate panel, the IPCC, in its latest report in...
Mountains Are Warming Twice as Fast as the Rest of the World

Mountains Are Warming Twice as Fast as the Rest of the World

SOURCE: Pacific Standard DATE: June 19, 2017 SNIP: Mountain temperatures are increasing more quickly than the global average, at a rate closer to that of the Arctic, and climate researchers are trying to figure out why. They suspect that the accelerated mountain warming is due to an effect documented in the Arctic—loss of albedo. The peaks are losing their shiny white blanket of snow and ice that reflects the sun’s radiation back to space. Instead, darker-colored ground absorbs heat, amplifying the heat-trapping effect of greenhouse gas pollution. [University of Portsmouth geographer Nick] Pepin’s recent study zoomed in on the Tibetan Plateau, which holds so much snow and ice that it’s sometimes called the Third Pole. Temperatures in the region have climbed steadily. Above 4,000 meters in elevation, the rate of warming has increased by an astounding 75 percent in just the past 20 years, compared to areas below 2,000 meters. “If we’re right, the social and economic consequences could be serious, and we could see much more dramatic changes much sooner than previously thought,” Pepin...
Climate Change Could Uncover An Abandoned Arctic Nuclear Base

Climate Change Could Uncover An Abandoned Arctic Nuclear Base

SOURCE: Huffington Post DATE: May 25, 2017 SNIP: Climate change is causing record levels of ice to disappear from the Arctic, and the melt is unearthing something that was supposed to stay buried for centuries — an abandoned U.S. nuclear base. Camp Century was built in Greenland in 1959 during the peak of the Cold War. The subterranean base held between 85 and 200 soldiers year-round. The base was built under the pretense that it would be a centre for scientific experiments on the icecap and a space to test construction techniques in Arctic conditions. If the ice melts at Camp Century, it will release an abundance of PCBs as well as other physical, chemical, biological and radiological wastes (including thousands of barrels of diesel) that could eventually be swept to Canada. The study from Geophysical Research Letters predicted that by 2090 ice around Camp Century will begin to melt, and it will take nearly another century before the camp is fully unearthed. But meltwater runoff could carry chemical waste into the sea as soon as the ice sheet starts melting. Since that study was published, scientists found that the Arctic is warming more than twice as fast as the rest of earth. The “Snow, Water, Ice, and Permafrost in the Arctic” report, published in April 2017, significantly increased the projections of how fast global sea-levels will rise, meaning that ice could melt at Camp Century sooner than...