Melt

Less Ice or More? What You Need to Know About Antarctica’s Meltdown

Publication: NBC News   Date: December 13, 2014   View Article

In Antarctica, glaciers are sloshing seaward at an ever faster clip, ocean waters are warming, and, perhaps counterintuitively, sea ice is expanding, according to a batch of recent studies that paint a stark picture of climate change unfolding at the far southern reaches of the globe. For people in North America, the distant events raise the specter of higher seas sooner than climate models suggest.

Here are answers to key questions about what’s happening on that cold continent.

Human Activity Really Is Melting Glaciers, Study Says

Publication: NBC News   Date: August 14, 2014   View Article

Time lapse photography of shrinking glaciers makes a powerful visual case for the impact of human-caused global warming. That’s why, for example, it’s used in former Vice President Al Gore’s slideshow, An Inconvenient Truth, and by GlacierWorks, a nonprofit started by famed mountaineer and filmmaker David Breashears to document climate change in the Himalaya.

But is human activity really causing the world’s glaciers to melt? After all, these rivers of ice have been melting ever since the Little Ice Age came to an end nearly two centuries ago, long before humans pumped out enough greenhouse gases to change the global climate. Perhaps the glaciers would be retreating even if humans never once burned a fossil fuel or cleared a forest.

“It seems to be so obvious that when it is getting warmer — and it is getting warmer because of human activity — the glaciers are melting because of human activity, but that actually hasn’t been shown before,” Ben Marzeion, a climate scientist at the University of Innsbruck in Austria, told NBC News.

Now it has.

Volcano under Antarctic ice may erupt, accelerate melting

Publication: NBC News   Date: November 17, 2013   View Article

A newly discovered volcano rumbling beneath nearly a mile of ice in Antarctica will almost certainly erupt at some point in the future, according to a new study. Such an event could accelerate the flow of ice into the sea and push up the already rising global sea levels.

When the volcano will blow is unknown, “but it is quite likely” to happen, Amanda Lough, a graduate student in seismology at Washington University in St. Louis, Mo., told NBC News.

Message from the mud: East Antarctic meltdown could cause massive sea rise

Publication: NBC News   Date: July 21, 2013   View Article

The last time concentrations of the greenhouse gas carbon dioxide were as high as they are today, big chunks of the seemingly stable East Antarctic ice sheet melted and helped raise global sea levels more than 65 feet higher than they are now, a new study suggests.

Scientists have long known that seas were higher during the Pliocene, a geological epoch that ran from 5.3 million to 2.6 million years ago. At the time, atmospheric carbon dioxide levels were similar to today’s 400 parts per million (ppm).

“Overall, it was a warmer climate than today, but similar to what we expect to reach by the end of this century,”Carys Cook, a graduate student at the Grantham Institute for Climate Change at Imperial College London and the study’s lead author, told NBC News in an email.

Hawaii to suffer most as global sea levels rise, study says

Publication: NBC News   Date: February 21, 2013   View Article

Melting ice in Greenland, Antarctica and elsewhere will push up seas unevenly around the world, according to a new study that finds some of the highest waters will inundate Honolulu, Hawaii.

At the poles, sea levels will actually fall because of the way sea, land and ice interact. For example, the sheer mass of water held in ice in Greenland and Antarctica generates a gravitational field that pulls in the surrounding water. As ice there melts, the gravitational pull weakens and the water is redistributed.

Is Arctic ice thinning?

Publication: msnbc.com   Date: June 22, 2011   View Article

Scientists have long used satellite imagery to illustrate the shrinking extent of the Arctic sea ice. Now they’ve got satellite data that will provide regular updates on whether the ice is getting thinner as well.

The first ice thickness map from the European Space Agency’s CryoSat spacecraft was released Tuesday at an air show in Paris. It was compiled with data collected in January and February.

The map shows, for example, the ice is thickest near the North Pole and off the coasts of Greenland and northeastern Canada. It thins as it stretches out towards Alaska and Russia.

Kilimanjaro’s Snows Gone by 2022?

Publication: National Geographic News   Date: November 2, 2009   View Article

Ernest Hemingway must be reaching for a bottle of grappa in his grave. The snows of Kilimanjaro—inspirations for a Hemingway story of the same name—could be gone by 2022, a new study confirms.

The ice atop Kilimanjaro “continues to diminish right on schedule for disappearing, unfortunately, in the next couple of decades,” said glaciologist Lonnie Thompson at Ohio State University in Columbus.

© 2008-2010 Collected Writings By John Roach