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Study: Record Greenland surface melt in 2012 didn’t speed up glacial movement

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

A new study of the Greenland Ice Sheet may help refine sea-level rise forecasts.

‘Warmer summers will still lead to more rapid melting of the ice sheet …’

By Summit Voice

FRISCO — After examining a broad swath of the Greenland Ice Sheet, a science team led by University of Edinburgh researchers say they have a better understanding of how glacier movement is affected by melting ice in summer. That could lead to more accurate predictions of sea level rise.

The researchers gathered detailed GPS ice flow data and ice surface melt rates along a 115 kilometer transect in west Greenland and compared ice motion from an average melt year, 2009, with the exceptionally warm year of 2012.

The study, carried out in collaboration with the Universities of Sheffield, Aberdeen, Tasmania and Newcastle, was published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences and supported by the Natural Environment Research Council.

“Although the record summer melt did not intensify ice motion, warmer summers will still lead to more rapid melting of the ice sheet,” said Professor Peter Nienow, of the University of Edinburgh’s School of GeoSciences, who led the study. “Furthermore, it is important that we continue to investigate how glaciers that end in the ocean are responding to climate change.” Continue reading

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Rate of coastal wetlands losses speeds up

Sea level rise, development squeezes wetlands from both sides

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Rising sea level is encroaching on coastal wetlands. bberwyn photo.

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Critical coastal wetlands are being lost at the rate of 80,000 acres per year. bberwyn photo.

By Summit Voice

FRISCO — With sea level encroaching on wetlands from the seaward side, and development taking chunks from landward, the U.S. coastal wetlands are being squeezed into an ever-smaller coastal fringe.

Overall, coastal wetlands are being lost at an unsustainable rate of about 80,000 acres per year, according to a new report from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

Those wetlands improve water quality and protect coastal communities from the effects of severe storms. They’re also crucial to the survival of fish, birds and other wildlife species, and help sustain the country’s multi-billion-dollar coastal fisheries and outdoor recreation industries. Read the full report here. Continue reading

Climate: Global October temperatures seventh-highest on record, global sea level at record high

No global warming pause on this planet …

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Most of the world’s land areas reported above average temperatures in Oct. 2013.

By Summit Voice

FRISCO — With just a couple of months left in the year, 2013 is on track to be the seventh-warmest year for Planet Earth, dating back to at least 1850, when modern record-keeping started.

Specifically, the first nine months of the year tied with 2003 as the seventh warmest, with a global land and ocean surface temperature of about 0.48 degrees Celsius (0.86 degrees Fahrenheit ) above the 1961–1990 average.

“Temperatures so far this year are about the same as the average during 2001-2010, which was the warmest decade on record,” said Michel Jarraud, secretary general of the World Meteorological Organization. “All of the warmest years have been since 1998 and this year once again continues the underlying, long-term trend The coldest years now are warmer than the hottest years before 1998,” Jarraud said. Continue reading

Climate: Study eyes speed of Antarctic glaciers

Findings may help fine-tune sea level rise projections

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Melting Antarctic glaciers are contributing to sea level rise. bberwyn photo.

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A NASA map shows Antarctica’s major glaciers.

By Summit Voice

FRISCO — Calculating the speed of glaciers in Antarctica is a key piece of information for climate scientists trying to project sea level rise, but until recently, they haven’t been able to include information about what’s happening beneath the ice, where the glaciers meet the ground.

It turns out there are narrow strips of dirt and rock creating friction zones that slow the flow, according to scientists with Princeton University and the British Antarctic Survey, who used mathematical models, ground-penetrating radar and other instruments to try and determine the lay of the land. Continue reading

Climate: Florida plants threatened by sea level rise get Endangered Species Act protection

Listing decision part of far-reaching settlement for imperiled species

Three Florida coastal plants threatened by sea level rise get Endangered Species Act protection. bberwyn photo.

Three Florida coastal plants threatened by sea level rise get Endangered Species Act protection. bberwyn photo.

By Summit Voice

FRISCO — Chugging ahead on its commitment to make endangered species listing decisions for more than 750 species, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service last week announced that three native Florida plants — all threatened by sea level rise — deserved protected status.

Most populations of the plants — aboriginal prickly apple, Florida semaphore cactus and Cape Sable thoroughwort are at, or just above, mean sea level.

“These native plants are being squeezed out of existence — pressed between coastal development and rising sea levels,” said Florida-based Center for Biological Diversity attorney Jaclyn Lopez. “Protection under the Endangered Species Act will give them a role in South Florida’s planning for rising seas.” Continue reading

New IPCC report highlights increasing certainty on global warming causes and consequences

Future looks grim without drastic greenhouse gas cuts

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Warmer and wetter times ahead.

By Bob Berwyn

FRISCO — The news is out and it’s not good. In fact, the latest update of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change is full of dire warning signs that the continued buildup of heat-trapping greenhouse gases, if left unchecked, will lead to a climate catastrophe with dire consequences for humanity and the rest of the planet’s species.

The full assessment is being released piecemeal, with this week’s Summary for Policy Makers drawing global attention, as every word and phrase is scrutinized and parsed for meaning. And it’s actually not that hard to figure out what it all means — you don’t even have to be a scientist. Continue reading

Climate: How fast are West Antarctic glaciers melting?

New study once again tabs oceans as main cause for acceleration of Pine Island, Thwaite glaciers meltdown

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What happens in Antarctica doesn’t stay in Antarctica. bberwyn photo.

By Summit Voice

FRISCO — After a long and complex research mission, scientists say they have more evidence that the rapid melting of Antarctica’s Pine Island Glacier is primarily fueled by relatively warm ocean water flowing beneath the floating 37-mile tongue of the glacier all the way to the grounding line. In some places, the ice is melting at the rate of more than 2 inches per year, a jackrabbit pace by geological standards.

Previous research has shown that the current rate of melting is nearly unprecedented, at least in the past 10,000 years. The speed with which the West Antarctic Ice Sheet dwindles has significant implications for global sea level rise.

The international team, led by NASA’s emeritus glaciologist Robert Bindschadler, spent five years just trying to figure out how to adequately explore the glacier, including aborted attempts in 2007 and 2011. In December 2012 the researchers were finally able to place their instruments. The project was funded by NASA and the National Science Foundation and the findings were published Sept. 13 in the journal Science. Continue reading

Sea level rise driving Hawaii coastal erosion

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The Hawaiian Islands, courtesy NASA Earth Observatory.

New data to help long-term coastal planning

By Summit Voice

FRISCO — A team of scientists have taken a close look at coastal erosion trends in Hawaii and determined that sea-level rise is the main driver, outweighing other factors like waves, sediment supply and coastal development.

The researchers from the University of Hawaii – Manoa, School of Ocean and Earth Science and Technology and the State of Hawaii, Department of Land and Natural Resources said that knowing that sea-level rise is a primary cause of shoreline will help resource managers and planners going forward. Continue reading

Greenland ice shelt melting from beneath due to heat from Earth’s mantle

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The surface of Greenland’s ice sheet is growing darker, leading to more melting, but the ice is also melting from beneath because of heat rising from the Earth’s mantle. Image courtesy NASA Earth Observatory.

Study says basal melting should be factored into climate modelsBy Summit VoiceFRISCO — While all eyes have been on the surface of he Greenland ice sheet and its outlet glaciers in recent years, it turns out the ice is also melting at the bottom, heated by a high heat
flow from the mantle into the lithosphere (essentially the crust and the upper mantle). An international research team led by the GFZ German Research Centre for Geosciences concluded that the thinness of the Earth’s crust beneath Greenland enables an increase flow of heat from the mantle, but the effects on the Greenland ice sheet are highly variable. Continue reading

Surface melt on Greenland ice cap speeds glaciers

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Meltwater pools on the surface of the Sermeq Avannarleq Glacier, in a region about 10 miles from the ice sheet margin in Southwest Greenland. Photo courtesy William Colgan/CIRES.

Findings suggest sea level calculations may need to be adjusted

By Summit Voice

*Adapted from a NASA press release

FRISCO — Scientists are keeping close watch on the behavior of the Greenland ice sheet as they try and calculate how fast the ice will melt as the planet continues to warm. The stakes are high — acceleration of the meltdown will start to raise sea levels around the world at an increasing pace, so the speed-up of glaciers flowing into the sea have garnered plenty of attention.

And new satellite measurements suggest that some of Greenland’s giant glaciers are also moving up to 1.5 faster then they were just 10 years ago, possibly lubricated by surface meltwater draining through cracks and warming the ice from the inside.

“Through satellite observations, we determined that an inland region of the Sermeq Avannarleq Glacier, 40 to 60 miles from the coast, is flowing about 1.5 times faster than it was about a decade ago,” said Thomas Phillips, lead author of the new paper and a research associate at the time of the study with the Cooperative Institute for Research in Environmental Sciences at the University of Colorado, Boulder. Continue reading

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