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30 December 2012
It hasn’t been a very white Christmas where I am right now (northern Virginia), but if you’ve been following my fellow AGU blogger Callan on Twitter, you’ll know that’s not the case in other parts of the state. And it’s definitely not the case back in Buffalo, which has been getting snow from several winter storms recently. That got me thinking about how geology – and topography – conspire to produce precipitation. (I think about this a lot more now that I live in Buffalo, since we tend to get much more snow than where I grew up, and UB has this interesting habit of rarely closing for weather.)
17 December 2012
One moment, a block of ice about the size of a 15-passenger van plummets from the edge of a melting glacier to the water below. Seconds later, seismic vibrations shake the glacier and surrounding rock. For years, scientists have been puzzled over why glaciers quake while losing ice. Now, a new study has uncovered how the icequakes and ice loss are connected, which may help glaciologists and climate scientists track retreating ice throughout the Arctic.
6 December 2012
Bacteria dependent on light may have found refuge from encroaching glaciers in inland seas some 600 million years ago, when Earth was a giant ice ball.
When glaciers have rock to cling to, they hold on tight. Luckily for us, a ridge of rock lines the edge of an expansive Antarctic glacier that might otherwise – without the ridge – be rapidly retreating and raising global sea level.
27 September 2012
Every summer in the Arctic, a vast system of ponds appears on the broad beds of floating sea ice, only to freeze again when the cold season returns. Researchers consider these transient bodies of water – called melt ponds — an important factor in climate change because they absorb sunlight and contribute to sea-ice loss. While warming has increased the fraction of Arctic sea ice where melt ponds form, global climate models have remained incapable of accurately predicting the influence of melt ponds, scientists say. A new model, which incorporates complex physics of the ponds, is generating predictions of sea-ice extent and thickness that match well with observations, the model’s developers report. The researchers are introducing this new capability just weeks after the extent of Arctic sea ice shrank to an unprecedented autumn low that climate models were unable to predict.
7 December 2011
Glacier motion is not always graceful motion. Some glaciers are downright jerky, slipping along in fitful bursts. To better understand the process, scientists are studying ice streams: regions of ice that move faster than their surroundings.
29 August 2011
When Alaskan glaciers move, they grind away at the underlying rocks. The scouring produces sediments that contain iron – an essential nutrient to the rich coastal ecosystem of the Gulf of Alaska. But if global temperatures continue to warm and the glacial landscape melts into forested land, the type and amount of iron coming from Alaskan rivers could change, with unknown but potentially significant consequences for the downstream ecosystem.
14 December 2010
From the snowy reaches of Antarctica to Saturn’s frozen moon Titan, volcanoes have the potential to power life in these extreme environments. We’ll probably have to wait a little longer for confirmation of life on Titan, but Antarctica is right on our doorstep and visits don’t require traveling on rocket-propelled spacecraft.
23 November 2010
Earlier this year, I took a (long) drive away from Buffalo to go visit some of the glacial features that “upstate” New York has to offer. Chimney Bluffs State Park is located on the shore of Lake Ontario in Sodus Bay (about halfway between Rochester and Oswego), and it’s an excellent place to see a truncated drumlin.
18 September 2010
Science journal Nature has gone glacier-tastic this week. On the cover, a gorgeous picture of Cerro Torre – a 3,133m high peak in the Patagonian Andes. Inside the journal, new research from southernmost Patagonia challenging stuff you were taught at school about glaciers.
9 September 2010
Yes, this video shows geoscientists screwing on Oregon’s largest glacier. Take a look – the footage is about three minutes into the video.
27 July 2010
environmentresearchweb: A storm in a polder? Or a water tower? A mistake in the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report – the ‘bible’ of climate change science – about the year when Himalayan glaciers are predicted to melt away caused a huge media furore. Now the Dutch Environmental Assessment Agency has gone error-spotting in the IPCC report too. They found two glaring errors and many little ones. Environmentresearchweb puts …
10 July 2010
TreeHugger (and others): Glaciers get a coat of paint and their own cool bag. Italian officials have stolen a trick from summer picnickers protecting their gelatos: they’ve covered a melting glacier in something akin to a giant cool bag. TreeHugger reports. A Peruvian inventor has a different solution to a similar problem. He’s painting Andes peaks white to reflect sunlight, lower the temperature and rejuvenate a vanished glacier. Read about …
10 January 2008
G. K. Gilbert, in his account of the San Francisco Earthquake of 1906: It is the natural and legitimate ambition of a properly constituted geologist to see a glacier, witness an eruption and feel an earthquake. The glacier is always ready, awaiting his visit; the eruption has a course to run, and alacrity is always needed to catch its more important phases; but the earthquake, unheralded and brief, may elude …