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

Study: Florida’s beach-hardening strategy threatens green sea turtle nesting areas

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A green sea turtle. Photo courtesy NOAA.

‘Smart’ adaptation plans needed to protect critical beach nesting habitat

Staff Report

FRISCO — Florida’s strategy of trying to “harden” beaches to prevent erosion poses a serious threat to sea turtles, university scientists said this week, outlining results of a study that tracked reproduction for 30 years.

Hardening beaches puts up barriers to wildlife and impacts sea turtles’ ability to nest,” the researchers said. Continue reading

Climate: Is sea level rise speeding up?

New study shows acceleration in past 20 years

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Coastal flooding along the Gulf Coast. bberwyn photo.

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Sea level is going up, up … up.

Staff Report

FRISCO — Estimating the pace of global sea level rise isn’t easy, but a team of Harvard researchers say their new study helps fill in some of the data gaps, showing that the acceleration in the rise global sea level from the 20th century to the last two decades has been significantly larger than scientists previously thought.

Part of the reason for that is because scientists may have been over-estimating sea level rise between 1900 and 1990, according to co-authors Carling Hay, a post-doctoral fellow in the Department of Earth and Planetary Sciences, and Eric Morrow, a recent PhD graduate of EPS. 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

Global warming: Many U.S. coastal areas to see frequent flooding sooner rather than later

High water at the mouth of the Mississippi River, near Venice, Louisiana.

High water at the mouth of the Mississippi River, near Venice, Louisiana. bberwyn photo.

Study eyes flood ‘tipping’ points

Staff Report

FRISCO — Rising sea levels will subject many coastal areas in the U.S. to frequent flooding by the middle of the century, according to a new NOAA study aimed at identifying flood “tipping points.” By 2050, a majority of U.S. coastal areas are likely to be threatened by 30 or more days of flooding each year the study concluded.

The research was led by NOAA scientists William Sweet and Joseph Park and published this week in the American Geophysical Union’s online peer-reviewed journal Earth’s Future. Continue reading

Global Warming: Is the Greenland Ice Sheet melting faster than we think?

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How fast will the Greenland ice sheet melt?

243 gigatons of ice per year …

Staff Report

FRISCO — The most detailed look yet at the dynamics of the Greenland ice sheet suggests that current climate models may not be capturing the full extent of melting.

A team of scientists tracking the behavior of the ice sheet said they found unexpected shrinking in southeastern Greenland, and other signs suggesting that current models may underestimate ice loss in the near future. Continue reading

Climate: Robotic gliders probe secrets of Southern Ocean

Detailed measurements to help pinpoint rate of ice shelf melt

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Melting Antarctica ice shelves are raising global sea level. bberwyn photo.

Staff Report

FRISCO — The Southern Ocean, surrounding Antarctica, is mostly separated from the rest of the world’s oceans by a sharp temperature boundary and swift currents. But the border between the different masses of water is regularly blurred by giant swirls of water that may be transporting warmer water to the edge of the frozen continent.

Knowing how that process works could help scientists understand how fast Antarctic ice shelves will melt and raise global sea level, according to Caltech scientists who used robotic gliders to track the movement of water in the region. Continue reading

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