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Is the Greenland glacier meltdown partly caused by natural climate variability?

A new study of the Greenland snowpack reached surprising conclusions about concentrations of carbon monoxide.

Warming temps around Greenland may be partly due to natural climate variability.

New study shows link between Pacific Ocean hotspot and North Atlantic weather patterns

Staff Report

FRISCO — Climate researchers and glaciologists have long been tracking the meltdown of Greenland’s glaciers. The region has been warming at the astounding rate of about 1 degree Celsius per decade — several times the global average — but part of that may be due to natural variability, according to a new study led by University of Washington scientists.

The research suggests up to half the recent warming in the area may be linked with climate patterns born in the tropical western Pacific rather than with the overall warming of the planet. Continue reading

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Greenland’s ice sheet, past, present and future

A new study of the Greenland snowpack reached surprising conclusions about concentrations of carbon monoxide.

A new study of Greenland ice cores suggests parts of the ice sheet persisted through previous global warming spells.

Will there be a meltdown?

Staff Report

FRISCO — At least some parts of the Greenland ice sheet likely survived some of the warmest interludes in the Earth’s geologic climate history, researchers said last week as they announced findings of a study that discovered an ancient tundra landscape preserved under the Greenland Ice Sheet, below two miles of ice.

“We found organic soil that has been frozen to the bottom of the ice sheet for 2.7 million years,” said University of Vermont geologist and lead author Paul Bierman. The finding provides strong evidence that the Greenland Ice Sheet has persisted much longer than previously known, enduring through many past periods of global warming. Continue reading

Climate: Are Greenland’s glaciers speeding up?

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New data shows at least one glacier moving at a record pace of 50 feet per day

By Summit Voice

FRISCO — Arctic ice researchers say detailed measurements show that one Greenland’s glaciers has been moving at a record speed the past few years.

The scientists with the University of Washington and the German Space Agency measured the movement of the Jakobshavn Isbræ (Jakobshavn Glacier) in 2012 and 2013, concluding that the glacier is moving four times as fast as during the 1990s.

“We are now seeing summer speeds more than 4 times what they were in the 1990s on a glacier which at that time was believed to be one of the fastest, if not the fastest, glacier in Greenland,” said Ian Joughin, a researcher at the Polar Science Center, University of Washington and lead-author of the study. Continue reading

Baffin Island study shows skyrocketing Arctic temperatures

‘The warming we are seeing is outside any kind of known natural variability, and it has to be due to increased greenhouse gases in the atmosphere …’

Baffin Island's ice caps are melting fast. Photo courtesy NASA.

Baffin Island‘s ice caps are melting fast under an unprecedented regime of global warming, according to a new CU-Boulder study: Photo courtesy NASA.

By Summit Voice

FRISCO — After radiocarbon dating samples of moss at the edge of melting ice caps on Baffin Island, scientists said there’s little doubt that current warming in the Arctic is unprecedented, even on a geological time scale.

Average summer temperatures in the Eastern Canadian Arctic during the last 100 years are higher than during any century in the past 44,000 years and perhaps as long ago as 120,000 years, according to a University of Colorado Boulder study.

“The key piece here is just how unprecedented the warming of Arctic Canada is,” said CU-Boulder geologist Gifford Miller, also a fellow at CU-Boulder’s Institute of Arctic and Alpine Research. “This study really says the warming we are seeing is outside any kind of known natural variability, and it has to be due to increased greenhouse gases in the atmosphere.” Continue reading

Global warming ‘closes cafeteria’ for migrating caribou

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Caribour browsing in Alaska. Photo courtesy USGS.

Melting sea ice leads to trophic mismatch

By Summit Voice

FRISCOAs scientists amass more long-term observational data on global warming impacts in the Arctic, it’s becoming increasingly clear that melting sea ice will affect nearby land areas. In one of the most recent studies, Penn State researchers concluded that melting sea ice may be related to fewer caribou calf births and higher calf mortality in Greenland.

As the sea ice melts, warmer air temperatures in the surrounding area are causing plants to start growing earlier. But because caribou aren’t breeding any earlier, the calving season is out of synch with food availability, according to Eric Post, a Penn State University professor of biology, and Jeffrey Kerby, a Penn State graduate student. Continue reading

Climate: Study finds that dwindling sea ice exposes polar bears to more toxic pollution

A polar bear in the Arctic. PHOTO COURTESY USGS/SUSANNE MILLER.

A polar bear in the Arctic. PHOTO COURTESY USGS/SUSANNE MILLER.

Changing sea ice means shifting diet for top Arctic predators

By Summit Voice

FRISCO — The decline of Arctic sea ice is a huge threat to animals in the region, including polar bears and seals, and researchers are trying to learn how those changes will play out in the long run.

Even along the east coast of Greenland, where the sea ice may persist after it has vanished from other areas, the annual 1 percent decline in ice is affecting polar bears, according to an international team of researchers who studied polar bear diets.

After analyzing fatty tissues from 310 polar bears hunted by Greenland natives between 1984 and 2011, the scientists were able to detect subtle shifts in in their diet. Instead of relying primarily on ringed seals, residents of the high Arctic, the bears are increasingly eating subarctic harp and hooded seals. Continue reading

Climate: Not all gases related to fossil fuel combustion are rising in lockstep

A new study of the Greenland snowpack reached surprising conclusions about concentrations of carbon monoxide.

A new study of the Greenland snowpack reached surprising conclusions about concentrations of carbon monoxide.

 

FRISCO — Atmospheric carbon dioxide may be rising inexorably, but not all gases related to combustion of fossil fuels are increasing. A new study of the Greenland snowpack shows that carbon monoxide levels were higher in 1950 than those measured today.

Lead researcher, Vasilii Petrenko, an assistant professor of earth and environmental science at the University of Rochester, said the findings were surprising because computer models predicted CO related to fossil fuel burning.would be about 40 percent higher now than 60 years ago. Continue reading

Gas flaring a big source of Arctic black soot build-up

map of black carbon emissions

This map shows the surface concentrations of black carbon, from all emission sources, as simulated by the new study. The study shows that residential combustion emissions and gas flaring emissions are higher than previous studies had estimated. Graphic courtesy IIASA.

Fossil fuel development in high latitudes likely to speed Arctic meltdown

By Summit Voice

FRISCO — By now, we all know that burning fossil fuels is creating a global environmental problem by rapidly increasing the concentration of heat-trapping greenhouse gases. but it turns out that it also matters how and where fossil fuels are extracted and developed.

A new study from International Institute for Applied Physics Analysis shows that gas flaring by the oil and gas industry contributes more black carbon pollution to Arctic than previously thought—potentially speeding the melting of Arctic sea ice and contributing to the fast rate of warming in the region.

Gas flaring is the practice of simply burning of excess unwanted gases captured during the drilling process. The IIASA scientists from Norway, Finland, and Russia found that gas flaring from oil extraction in the Arctic accounts for 42 percent of the black carbon concentrations in the Arctic, with even higher levels during certain times of the year. In the month of March for example, the study showed that flaring accounts for more than half of black carbon concentrations near the surface. Globally, in contrast, gas flaring accounts for only 3 percent of black carbon emissions. Continue reading

The Grand Canyon … of Greenland

Radar data deciphers topography beneath the ice

By Summit Voice

FRISCO — Someday, if the Greenland ice cap melts because of global warming, tourists may have a new destination to rival the Grand Canyon.

After studying data from NASA’s Operation IceBridge, geographers at the University of Bristol in the United Kingdom said they found evidence of 460-mile canyon hidden under a mile of Greenland ice. In places, the previously undiscovered canyon is 2,600 feet deep. The huge gash is thought to predate the ice sheet that has covered Greenland for the last few million years.

“One might assume that the landscape of the Earth has been fully explored and mapped,” said Jonathan Bamber, professor of physical geography at the University of Bristol in the United Kingdom, and lead author of the study. “Our research shows there’s still a lot left to discover.” Continue reading

Record high temperature recorded in Greenland

Ice sheet surface melting above average in July

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A graph from the Greenland Today website shows 2013 surface melting in red to compare with average seasonal melting shown by the blue line.

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Daily maps from the Greenland Today website track surface melting.

By Summit Voice

FRISCO — A heatwave in Greenland culminated last week in the highest temperature recorded on the Arctic island since record-keeping started in 1958.

The official weather station at Maniitsoq/Sugar Loaf in southeastern Greenland reported a July 30 reading of 25.9 degrees Celsius (78.6 degrees Fahrenheit), breaking the old Greenland record of 25.5 degrees, set in 1990 in the same area of Greenland.

The Danish Meteorological Institute confirmed the record temperature in a press release. According to the weather experts, the regional heatwave resulted from a strong high pressure system over Greenland combined with a low pressure system over Baffin Island, leading to a flow of warm, dry air from the southeast.

The Danish meteorologists also said that reflected sunlight may also have been a factor in the reading, which has yet to be officially confirmed as the all-time high temperature record. Continue reading

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