Posted on June 15, 2015 by Bob Berwyn
Cushion plants on Macquarie Island are dying so fast that scientists are growing them in irrigated tubes to preserve them until they can collect large quantities of seed. Photo courtesy Barend (Barry) Becker, Australian Antarctic Division.
‘Dieback of the cushion plants and mosses is rapid, progressive and widespread …’
FRISCO — Dramatic climate-driven ecosystem changes on Macquarie Island (about a third of the way between New Zealand and Antarctica) may foreshadow changes coming to Colorado’s alpine zone.
Researchers with the Australian Antarctic Division say old-growth cushion plants and mosses on the sub-Antarctic are drying out, to the detriment of other species that rely on the plants for habitat.
Even though the tiny island is on the opposite side of the world, the plants are similar to cushion plants in the Rocky Mountains that are an important part of the tundra ecosystem in places like Rocky Mountain National Park. Continue reading
Filed under: Antarctica, biodiversity, climate and weather, climate change, Environment, global warming | Tagged: alpine tundra ecosystems, climate change, cushion plans, global warming, Macquarie Island, sub-Antarctic islands | Leave a comment »
Posted on May 23, 2015 by Bob Berwyn
Study shows widespread, simultaneous ice shelf melting
Satellite data shows sudden shift in ice shelf dynamics along the southern Antarctic Peninsula. @berwyn photo.
FRISCO — Along with studies showing dramatic changes in individual ice shelves in Antarctica, new research shows widespread changes in the region since 2009. Up until then, the Southern Antarctic Peninsula showed no signs of change.
But suddenly, multiple glaciers along a vast coastal expanse, measuring some 750km in length, suddenly started to shed ice into the ocean at a nearly constant rate of 60 cubic kilometers, or about 55 trillion liters of water, each year. This makes the region the second largest contributor to sea level rise in Antarctica and the ice loss shows no sign of waning. Continue reading
Filed under: Antarctica, climate and weather, Environment, global warming | Tagged: Antarctica, climate change, climate tipping point, global warming, sea level rise | Leave a comment »
Posted on May 16, 2015 by Bob Berwyn
Scientists say disintegration of Larsen B remnant will speed glaciers, raise sea level
Icebergs floating along the coast of the Antarctic Peninsula. @bberwyn photo.
FRISCO — There’s more meltdown news from Antarctica. Despite a trend of expanding sea ice in the past few years, the all-important coastal ice shelves, which regulate the flow of continental ice to the sea, are in trouble.
Last week, researchers with the British Antarctic Survey said they measured incredibly fast thinning of the Larsen C Ice Shelf, warning that the massive sheet of floating ice could crumble suddenly and without much warning. Those findings reflect the more widespread trend of ice shelf thinning around the continent, tracked in another comprehensive NASA-led study.
And in the same region, along the eastern coast of the Antarctic Peninsula, a new NASA study suggests that remnants of the previously collapsed Larsen B Ice Shelf probably won’t last much longer. Continue reading
Filed under: Antarctica, climate and weather, climate change, global warming | Tagged: Antarctica, climate change, global sea level rise, global warming, Larsen B ice shelf, Larsen C Ice Shelf | Leave a comment »
Posted on May 13, 2015 by Bob Berwyn
Larsen C Ice Shelf has dwindled by 4 meters in 15 years
Melting ice shelves in Antarctica will speed the rate of sea level rise. @bberwyn photo.
FRISCO — One of Antarctica’s giant ice shelves has thinned by more than 12 feet in the past 15 years and could collapse within the next 100 years — or possibly sooner and without much warning, according to scientists with the British Antarctic Survey.
The new study was focused on trying to determine why the Larsen C Ice Shelf is melting away. The ice shelf is along the east coast of the Antarctic Peninsula, one of the fastest warming regions on Earth, with a temperature rise of 2.5 degrees Celsius during the last 50 years. Continue reading
Filed under: Antarctica, climate and weather, Environment, global warming | Tagged: British Antarctic Survey, climate change, global sea level rise, global warming, Larsen C Ice Shelf | 2 Comments »
Posted on May 3, 2015 by Bob Berwyn
Big changes ahead for the frozen continent
Bay of bergs.
Changes in the formation and persistence of ice around Antarctica will affect the entire food web, from tiny krill up to top predators like this leopard seal.
The MV Professor Molchanov anchored near Dundee Island.
A gentoo penguin arcs out of the ice waters.
Leopard seal at rest.
At the fringes of the ice …
FRISCO —I often write about the environmental changes expected in Antarctica
as the world heats up under its man-made blanket of heat-trapping greenhouse gases because those changes will have huge implications for the rest of the planet. It’s not just the melting ice and rising sea level
. When — and to be clear, it’s when, not if — the big meltdown begins, it will affect ocean currents worldwide and weather patterns in both the northern and southern hemispheres. Hard to say at this point what the consequences will be for places like Australia and South America. Click this link
to read about how the Antarctic affects global climate.
But Antarctica is so vast, so distant and so unimaginably different from the rest of the planet that it’s sometimes hard to get your head around it without seeing it for yourself. Enjoy the gallery and check our archive of Antarctica environment stories to learn more.
Filed under: Antarctica, climate and weather, climate change, Environment, global warming | Tagged: Antarctica, climate change, Environment, global warming, Travel, wildlife | Leave a comment »
Posted on May 1, 2015 by Bob Berwyn
Study says 92 billion tons of ice melting each year
The ice sheets of West Antarctica are losing about 240 billion tons of ice each year, and the rate of loss has doubled in the past 10 years. @bberwyn photo.
Princeton University researchers “weighed” Antarctica’s ice sheet using gravitational satellite data and found that from 2003 to 2014, the ice sheet lost 92 billion tons of ice per year. Image by Christopher Harig, Department of Geosciences, Princeton.
FRISCO — Sparse data make it tough to track continental-scale climatic changes across the vast reaches of Antarctica. But a new study that analyzed gravitational readings from satellites is helping scientists understand what’s happening to the region’s massive ice fields, and in a new study, they say that, overall, the southern continent’s ice cap is melting ever faster.
The study covers a 10-year span, from 2003 to 2014, when an average of 92 billion tons of ice melted away into the sea each year, with obvious implications for sea level rise. Reporting in the journal Earth and Planetary Science Letters, the Princeton researchers said that, if all that ice were piled on Manhattan it would be more than a mile high, five times the height of the Empire State Building. Continue reading
Filed under: Antarctica, climate and weather, Environment, global warming | Tagged: Antarctic ice loss, Antarctica, Antarctica ice sheets, climate change, global warming west antarctica | Leave a comment »
Posted on April 18, 2015 by Bob Berwyn
Natural variability still the key driver for East Antarctica temps
FRISCO — A lack of widespread data from Antarctica means it’s still challenging to differentiate human-driven global warming from natural temperature variations in the region, German scientists said in a new study.
Climate researchers need to understand temperature trends in Antarctica to better predict how fast the ice will melt and raise global sea level. But the study concluded that the uncertainties in the temperature trends over Antarctica are larger than previously estimated. Continue reading
Filed under: Antarctica, climate and weather, Environment, global warming | Tagged: Antarctica, climate change, East Antarctica, global warming, natural variability in climate | Leave a comment »