Temperatures leap 40 degrees above normal as the Arctic Ocean and Greenland ice sheet see record June melting

Temperatures leap 40 degrees above normal as the Arctic Ocean and Greenland ice sheet see record June melting

SOURCE: Washington Post DATE: June 14, 2019 SNIP: Ice is melting in unprecedented ways as summer approaches in the Arctic. In recent days, observations have revealed a record-challenging melt event over the Greenland ice sheet, while the extent of ice over the Arctic Ocean has never been this low in mid-June during the age of weather satellites. Greenland saw temperatures soar up to 40 degrees above normal Wednesday, while open water exists in places north of Alaska where it seldom, if ever, has in recent times. It’s “another series of extreme events consistent with the long-term trend of a warming, changing Arctic,” said Zachary Labe, a climate researcher at the University of California at Irvine. And the abnormal warmth and melting of ice in the Arctic may be messing with our weather. Weather satellites have monitored sea ice in the Arctic since 1979, and the current ice coverage is the lowest on record for mid-June. The ice extent has been especially depleted in the part of the Arctic Ocean adjacent to the Pacific Ocean. “It’s pretty remarkable how much open water is in that area,” Labe said. Labe explained high pressure over the Arctic has helped to pull sea ice way from the northern Alaska coast. Sea ice loss over the Chukchi and Beaufort seas along Alaska’s northern coast has been “unprecedented” according to Rick Thoman, a climatologist based in Fairbanks. Labe said there’s sufficient open water that you could sail all the way from the Bering Strait into a narrow opening just north of Utqiagvik, Alaska’s northernmost city, clear into the Beaufort Sea. “It’s very unusual for open...
‘Extraordinary thinning’ of ice sheets revealed deep inside Antarctica

‘Extraordinary thinning’ of ice sheets revealed deep inside Antarctica

SOURCE: The Guardian DATE: May 16, 2019 SNIP: Ice losses are rapidly spreading deep into the interior of the Antarctic, new analysis of satellite data shows. The warming of the Southern Ocean is resulting in glaciers sliding into the sea increasingly rapidly, with ice now being lost five times faster than in the 1990s. The West Antarctic ice sheet was stable in 1992 but up to a quarter of its expanse is now thinning. More than 100 metres of ice thickness has been lost in the worst-hit places. A complete loss of the West Antarctic ice sheet would drive global sea levels up by about five metres, drowning coastal cities around the world. The current losses are doubling every decade, the scientists said, and sea level rise are now running at the extreme end of projections made just a few years ago. “From a standing start in the 1990s, thinning has spread inland progressively over the past 25 years – that is rapid in glaciological terms,” said Prof Andy Shepherd, of Leeds University in the UK, who led the study. “The speed of drawing down ice from an ice sheet used to be spoken of in geological timescales, but that has now been replaced by people’s...
Record-early Alaska river thaw follows high winter temperatures

Record-early Alaska river thaw follows high winter temperatures

SOURCE: Reuters DATE: April 15, 2019 SNIP: Key Alaska rivers that are usually frozen at this time of year are now free-flowing, with record-early thaws following record-high winter and spring temperatures. In the interior Alaska city of Nenana, ice on the Tanana River gave way just after midnight on Sunday. It was by far the earliest breakup in the 102-year history of the Nenana Ice Classic, an iconic Alaska betting pool in which participants predict when thaw will sink a wooden tripod placed on the ice. The previous earliest breakup of the Tanana, a tributary of the Yukon River, was April 20, a mark reached in 1998 and 1940. Another record-early thaw happened on Friday on the Kuskokwim River at the southwestern city of Bethel. The previous earliest ice-breakup date for the Kuskokwim Ice Classic was also April 20, in 2016. The Friday ice breakup was the earliest for that part of the Kuskokwim in 92 years of records kept by the National Weather Service. At both rivers, records show that breakup has been happening, on average, about a week earlier since the 1960s, not counting this year’s record thaws. This year’s breakups followed an extraordinarily warm Alaska winter with near-record-low ice in the Bering Sea and a record-hot March...
Greenland ice melting rapidly

Greenland ice melting rapidly

SOURCE: Ohio State News and National Geographic DATE: January 21, 2019 SNIP: Greenland is melting faster than scientists previously thought—and will likely lead to faster sea level rise—thanks to the continued, accelerating warming of the Earth’s atmosphere, a new study has found. Scientists concerned about sea level rise have long focused on Greenland’s southeast and northwest regions, where large glaciers stream iceberg-sized chunks of ice into the Atlantic Ocean. Those chunks float away, eventually melting. But a new study published Jan. 21 in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences found that the largest sustained ice loss from early 2003 to mid-2013 came from Greenland’s southwest region, which is mostly devoid of large glaciers. “Whatever this was, it couldn’t be explained by glaciers, because there aren’t many there,” said Michael Bevis, lead author of the paper, Ohio Eminent Scholar and a professor of geodynamics at The Ohio State University. “It had to be the surface mass—the ice was melting inland from the coastline.” That melting, which Bevis and his co-authors believe is largely caused by global warming, means that in the southwestern part of Greenland, growing rivers of water are streaming into the ocean during summer. The key finding from their study: Southwest Greenland, which previously had not been considered a serious threat, will likely become a major future contributor to sea level rise. “We knew we had one big problem with increasing rates of ice discharge by some large outlet glaciers,” he said. “But now we recognize a second serious problem: Increasingly, large amounts of ice mass are going to leave as meltwater, as rivers that flow...
Melting Arctic ice is now pouring 14,000 tons of water per second into the ocean, scientists find

Melting Arctic ice is now pouring 14,000 tons of water per second into the ocean, scientists find

SOURCE: The Washington Post DATE: December 21, 2018 SNIP: A new scientific survey has found that the glaciers of the Arctic are the world’s biggest contributors to rising seas, shedding ice at an accelerating rate that now adds well over a millimeter to the level of the ocean every year. That is considerably more ice melt than Antarctica is contributing, even though the Antarctic contains far more ice. Still, driven by glacier clusters in Alaska, Canada and Russia and the vast ice sheet of Greenland, the fast-warming Arctic is outstripping the entire ice continent to the south — for now. However, the biggest problem is that both ice regions appear to be accelerating their losses simultaneously — suggesting that we could be in for an even faster rate of sea-level rise in future decades. For Arctic ice loss, “the rate has tripled since 1986,” said Jason Box, first author of the new study and a scientist at the Geological Survey of Denmark and Greenland. “So it clearly shows an acceleration of the sea-level contribution.” The total Arctic loss at present is 447 billion tons of ice per year — which Box calculated is about 14,000 tons of water per second. That’s for the period between 2005 and 2015. Between 1986 and 2005, the loss is calculated at around 5,000 tons per second — therefore, the rate has almost...