Water shortages, sudden floods on the climate change menu in South America
Researchers already know that the world’s tropical glaciers are melting fast, but a new study published in The Cryosphere, an European Geosciences Union journal, helps pinpoint some of the potential impacts. The research focused on the Bolivian Andes, where glaciers dwindled by 43 percent in the last 30 years. The melting ice has created lakes that could burst and flood downstream towns, according to lead author Simon Cook a lecturer at the Manchester Metropolitan University in the UK.
The glacier meltdown also threatens regional water supplies. The 2.3 million residents of La Paz and El Alto get about 15 percent of their water supply from glaciers, and double that during the dry season. One lake in the region has already dried up, according to the authors, who said their study is one of the first to look specifically at recent large-scale glacier change in Bolivia. Continue reading “Melting Andes glaciers pose risk in Bolivia”→
What’s left of the glaciers around the Grossglockner, Austria’s highest peak.
Mondsee, one of the Salzkammergut lakes, from the highway.
Grosses Wiesbachhorn (3,564 M) from the Grossglocknerstrasse.
Austrian high country.
Our reporting for the global warming in the Alps project took us to the high country around Austria’s highest peak, the Grossglockner, late last week, where we saw firsthand how the once mighty glaciers have dwindled to remnant shards of ice in the past few decades, with uncertain consequences for ecosystems below. The mountain valleys are still lush green in the Austrian high country, but there are great concerns that the meltdown could affect aquatic life in the streams below the glaciers, not to mention hydropower production, one of Austria’s main sources of renewable energy.
Scientists may not have to wait too much longer to observe firsthand the effects of global warming on Greenland’s ice sheets. One of the largest glaciers in Greenland entered “a phase of accelerated retreat in 2012,” and may be near a climate tipping point, according to new research published in the current issue of Science.
After studying the Zachariae Isstrom, scientists with the University of California, Irvine, said it’s starting to break up.
“North Greenland glaciers are changing rapidly,” said Jeremie Mouginot, an assistant researcher with UCI’s department of earth system science. “The shape and dynamics of Zachariae Isstrom have changed dramatically over the last few years. The glacier is now breaking up and calving high volumes of icebergs into the ocean, which will result in rising sea levels for decades to come.” Continue reading “Are Greenland glaciers on the verge of crumbling?”→
At the glacial tongue of the Sólheimajökull in southern Iceland.
Pano view at Jökulsárlón.
Happy campers in southern Iceland.
On our way to Austria, we took advantage of Iceland Air’s liberal stopover policy and spent a couple of days touring the island’s southern coast in a mini-campervan. It’s coast Highway 1, just like in California, except for the volcanoes, glaciers and lamb-burgers in the roadside truck stops. The glacial lagoon at Jökulsárlón has long been on the list, so we bee-lined for it the first day, then took our time heading back to Reykjavik, with stops at hot springs, waterfalls and lava cliffs along the way. More to come, so stay tuned.
Researchers try to pinpoint sea level rise projections
By Bob Berwyn
FRISCO — Sea level is set to rise at least three feet during the next few decades, NASA scientists and ice researchers said this week, updating their latest research and findings on how fast the world’s ice sheets and glaciers are melting.
The scientists said they’re still not sure exactly how fast the water will rise, but they’re getting closer to nailing down the timing, thanks to several ongoing research projects, including a five-year effort to measure ice loss around the edge of Greenland.
‘The big picture across the world and over the long run is clear — carbon dioxide is making the ice melt’
FRISCO — Just like today, there were regional nuances in the Earth’s climate at the end of the last ice age — like solar radiation and ocean currents — that were factors in the meltdown of ice sheets and glaciers.
Study finds link between Arctic and Antarctic ice sheet meltdowns
FRISCO — Climate shifts have played out in different ways in the past, scientists concluded in a new study, after finding that a dramatic ice sheet collapse at the end of the ice age before last caused widespread climate changes and led to a peak in the sea level well above its present height.