Study explores Greenland Ice Sheet plumbing

A meltwater lake on the surface of the Greenland Ice Sheet. Now researchers are tracking where that water goes, and how it may affect ice sheet movement. Photo courtesy Thomas Nylen, NSF.

A meltwater lake on the surface of the Greenland Ice Sheet. Now researchers are tracking where that water goes, and how it may affect ice sheet movement. Photo courtesy Thomas Nylen, National Science Foundation.

Surface meltwater feeds subglacial lakes

Staff Report

FRISCO — Scientists who recently took a close look at the “plumbing” of the Greenland Ice Sheet say that meltwater from the surface is building up lakes beneath the ice and transporting heat to the bottom of the ice sheet.

The research, led by Cornell University Earth and Atmospheric Sciences researcher Michael Willis, includes groundbreaking findings that give new information about atmospheric warming and its affect on the critical zone at the base of the ice. The warmth provided by the water could make the ice sheet move faster and alter how it responds to the changing climate. The research is detailed in a new paper published online by the journal Nature on Jan. 21. Continue reading

Climate: ‘It’s time to start getting angry’

Climate researchers call for action at Breck conference

By Adam Spencer

BRECKENRIDGE — For nearly 70 years, Americans breathed poisonous exhaust from leaded gasoline while a team of oil and auto industry-funded scientists maintained that millions of cars burning lead — a potent neurotoxin — was safe.  When federal regulators finally started to phase out leaded gasoline in the 1970s, levels of the toxin found in Americans’ blood plummeted by 77 percent.

“The use of leaded gasoline very much mirrors the fight over climate change,” said Dr. Jim White, director of the Institute of Arctic and Alpine Research and a geology and environmental science professor at the University of Colorado.

White argued, at the annual Glen Gerberg Weather and Climate Summit held in Breckenridge this week, that big oil’s arguments against the early warnings of lead’s health impacts (spills at the plants that produced the petroleum additive in the 1920s killed some workers and made others crazy) are very similar to the arguments used today to discredit human-caused climate change. Continue reading

Climate: Scientists map Greenland’s snow-melt rivers

Massive flows contribute to sea level rise

How fast will the Greenland Ice Sheet melt? Map courtesy Change in Elevation over Greenland ICESat's precise elevation change measurements, combined with information from other technologies, are producing a comprehensive look at the behavior of Earth’s ice sheets -- critical for quantifying forecasts of sea level rise. Scientists used ICESat data to show changes in elevation over the Greenland ice sheet between 2003 and 2006. White regions indicate a slight thickening, while the blue shades indicate a thinning of the ice sheet. Gray indicates areas where no change in elevation was measured.  Credit: NASA Goddard's Scientific Visualization Studio

How fast will the Greenland Ice Sheet melt?
Credit: NASA Goddard’s Scientific Visualization Studio.

Staff Report

FRISCO — After criss-crossing the Greenland Ice Sheet with a helicopter and deploying a remote-operated boat, a team of UCLA-led scientists say they’ve mapped an intricate network of rivers and streams flowing on top of the ice sheet.

The water from those rivulets and rivers could be responsible for as much, if not more, sea-level rise that the ice sheet’s ephemeral lakes and the monster chunks of ice that slide into the ocean to become icebergs. Continue reading

Climate: Genetic study shows polar bears chasing ice

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The Arctic is changing, and nobody is sure if polar bears will be able to survive the impending meltdown. Photo courtesy USGS.

Arctic predators looking for areas with reliable ice

Staff Report

FRISCO — Polar bears are heading farther north as Arctic sea ice dwindles, scientists said this week, publishing the results of a new study that took a close look at the genetics of the 19 recognized subpopulations of polar bears.

The research found that those 19 populations can be clustered into four genetically-similar groups, corresponding to ecological and oceanographic factors. These four clusters are the Eastern Polar Basin, Western Polar Basin, Canadian Archipelago, and Southern Canada.

The study showed that the gene flow in the most recent generations of polar bears is toward the Canadian Archipelago, where sea ice is expected to persist longer than in other parts of the Arctic. Continue reading

Weather & climate summit returns to Breckenridge with sessions on sea ice and climate security

Annual conference includes all-star climate science speakers

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November’s above-average temperatures kept Earth on track to record its warmest year on record. Learn more from this year’s Glen Gerberg Weather and Cimate Summit.

Staff Report

FRISCO — This year’s Glen Gerberg Weather and Climate Summit in Breckenridge once again features some notable climate scientists, including James Balog, who has documented the disappearance of Arctic sea ice, and Dr. Richard Knabb, director of the National Hurricane Center. As in past years, the sessions will be webcast live, enabling the general public to listen and even to ask questions online. Continue reading

Climate: Satellite measurements show how Arctic is absorbing more energy as sea ice dwindles

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Temperatures in the Arctic are rising dramatically.

Data starts to confirm climate feedback loop

Staff Report

FRISCO — NASA scientists say that, during the summer, Arctic is absorbing 5 percent more of the sun’s incoming energy than just 15 years ago. The trend coincides with the steady decrease in Arctic sea ice during the same period.

The extra energy is equal to an additional 10-watt light bulb shining continuously over every 10.76 square feet of Arctic Ocean for the entire summer.

The change in the region’s energy balance is happening because ocean water is darker than sea ice and absorbs the sun’s energy at a higher rate. The decline in the region’s reflectivity has been a key concern among scientists since the summer Arctic sea ice cover began shrinking in recent decades. Continue reading

2014 Arctic report card documents ongoing global warming impacts

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A NASA Blue Marble view of Earth, with Greenland parts of the Arctic visible top-center.

Arctic warming twice as fast as rest of the planet

Staff Report

FRISCO — Parts of the Arctic Ocean are warming by nearly 1 degree Fahrenheit every decade, and overall, Arctic temperatures are rising twice as fast the global average, climate scientists said today as they released results of an annual Arctic Report Card.

The report documents increasing air and sea surface temperatures, declining reflectivity at the surface of the Greenland ice sheet, which reached a new record low last summer. And there is ongoing shrinkage of  spring snow cover on land and summer ice on the ocean.

The warming Arctic atmosphere was strongly connected to lower latitudes in early 2014 causing cold air outbreaks into the eastern USA and warm air intrusions into Alaska and northern Europe. Continue reading

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