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Alaska’s Columbia Glacier may stop retreating by 2020

New modeling may help generate more accurate predictions of sea level rise

An iceberg from Alaska’s Columbia Glacier floats in Prince William Sound. Photo by Kim Fenske.

By Summit Voice

SUMMIT COUNTY — Alaska’s Columbia Glacier — a poster child for the impacts of global warming — is likely to stop receding around 2020, when the terminus of the glacier retreats into water shallow enough to provide a stable position through 2100 by slowing the rate of iceberg production.

The Columbia Glacier is a large (425 square miles), multi-branched glacier in south-central Alaska that flows mostly south out of the Chugach Mountains to its tidewater terminus in Prince William Sound.

The new study by Boulder-based University of Colorado scientists with the Cooperative Institute for Research in Environmental Sciences shows that a single glacier’s contribution to sea level rise can “turn on” and “turn off” quite rapidly, over a couple of years, with the precise timing of the life cycle being difficult to forecast. Continue reading

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