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Volcano study helps measure historic ice sheet thickness

UBC geologists examine pyroclastic deposits near summit of tephra cone on south side of Kima'Kho. Key attributes of these deposits established that they were deposited above the level of a surrounding englacial lake.

UBC geologists examine pyroclastic deposits near summit of tephra cone on south side of Kima’Kho. Key attributes of these deposits established that they were deposited above the level of a surrounding englacial lake. Photo courtesy UBC Science.

Ancient tuyas hold climate clues

By Summit Voice

FRISCO —In what must have been incredible displays of fire and ice, ancient volcanoes once erupted under massive glacial ice sheets, leaving deposits that could help paleoclimatologists unravel some ice age puzzles.

In a recent study, University of British Columbia researchers surveyed those deposits at the Kima’ Kho tuya, which erupted under an ice sheet about 1.8 million years ago. Their findings suggest that he ancient regional ice sheet through which the volcano erupted was twice as thick as previously estimated. Continue reading

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Does climate affect volcanic activity?

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Mt. St. Helens erupts in 1980. Photo courtesy USGS.

New research suggests melting ice sheets could trigger more vulcanism

By Summit Voice

SUMMIT COUNTY — Melting ice sheets may trigger an increase in global volcanic activity, according to researchers with the GEOMAR Helmholtz Centre for Ocean Research (based in Kiel, Germany), and Harvard, who matched historic geological records of vulcanism with warm climate periods.

“In times of global warming, glaciers on the continents are melting relatively quickly. At the same time the sea level rises. The weight on the continents decreases, while the weight on the oceanic tectonic plates increases. Thus, the stress changes within in the earth to open more routes for ascending magma,” said GEOMAR’s Dr Mario Jegen. Continue reading

Western governors seek better climate information

Western weather forecasting should improve under a new agreement between NOAA and the Western Governors' Association.

Extreme weather prompts call for improved forecasting

By Bob Berwyn

SUMMIT COUNTY — Floods, drought, wildfires and severe storms have spurred the Western Governors’ Association and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration to make a deal that will improve the  development and delivery of climate science and services to Western states.

The agreement will increase collaboration and boost existing efforts to ensure Western states and the U.S. Pacific islands are better able to plan for natural hazards.

The memorandum of understanding was signed last week at the WGA’s Annual Meeting in Coeur d’Alene, Idaho, by NOAA Administrator Jane Lubchenco and Govs. C.L. “Butch” Otter (Idaho) and Chris Gregoire (Washington), the Chair and Vice Chair of WGA. WGA includes Governors from 19 Western states and three U.S. Flag Pacific Islands. Continue reading

Ocean ‘feedback’ speeds Antarctic glacier melt

Rate of melt at  Pine Island Glacier has increased 50 percent in 15 years

New research helps explain melting of Antarctic Glaciers. PHOTO BY BOB BERWYN.

By Summit Voice

SUMMIT COUNTY — A glacier in West Antarctica is melting 50 percent faster than just a few years ago, as greater volumes of warm water reach the cavity beneath the ice.

“More warm water from the deep ocean is entering the cavity beneath the ice  shelf, and it is warmest where the ice is thickest,” said, Stan  Jacobs, an oceanographer at Columbia University¹s Lamont-Doherty Earth  Observatory and lead author of the paper published this week in the journal Nature Geoscience.

“Our research shows that the glacier melt rate has increased significantly because more warm water is circulating beneath it,” said Dr. Adrian Jenkins, of the British Antarctic Survey. “It appears that the thinning of the ice shelf that has resulted from the higher melt rates is what has allowed the circulation to strengthen. It¹s evidence of a complex feedback between glacier dynamics, seabed topography and, ocean circulation  that we need to understand if we are to say how Pine Island Glacier will evolve in the future,” Jenkins added. Continue reading

April weather marked by extremes across the U.S.

In a typical La Niña pattern, the Pacific Northwest was chilly, with above-average readings across much of the South and Southeast. GRAPH COURTESY NOAA.

Tornado count the highest for any month on record; nationwide temperature 0.9 degrees above long-term average

By Summit Voice

SUMMIT COUNTY — The average April temperature across the U.S. was 52.9 degrees, which is 0.9 degrees above the long-term average, with cooler-than-average readings across the northern tier of states and above-average temperatures across the South. April ended up as the eighth-snowiest during the 45-year satellite record.

According to the National Climatic Data Center’s monthly report, April was a month of extremes. The National Weather Service expects the confirmed tornado count to exceed 600, a record for any month, along with 2,000 reports of hail damage and more than 3,200 wind-damage reports.

The previous April record for tornadoes was 148 in 1974. The previous single-month record was set in May 2003 with 542 tornadoes.

Tornadoes were reported two out of every three days of the month. Wildfire activity, especially in Texas, burned across twice the area of any April during this past century. In Colorado, the Crystal Wildfire burned 13 homes and 3,000 acres west of Fort Collins at the beginning of the month. Continue reading

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