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22 October 2016

Ísland: Floods

When you bring together volcanoes and ice – as many places in Iceland do – you get floods. Specifically, they’re called jökulhlaups, which literally means “glacier run” but in reality means a glacial outburst flood. Originally the term was used for subglacial outburst floods from Vatnajökull ice cap, which covers the Grímsvötn and Öræfajökull volcanoes, but it’s come to mean any large, abrupt release of water from under a glacier or from a lake at the glacier front.


17 December 2015

Harbor seals hang out on glacier ice

Harbor seals are the most widespread pinniped species in the world. They range as far south as Baja California in Mexico, and as far north as Artic Canada and Greenland. In the colder areas of that vast distribution, they sometimes make themselves at home on floating chunks of ice below tidewater glaciers.

Glaciers are constantly on the move, flowing slowly downhill under the force of their own weight. When that path leads them into the ocean, they’re called tidewater glaciers. During the summer, harbor seals, up to several thousand at a time, congregate in Alaska’s tidewater glacier fjords.


15 December 2015

One Million Icequakes

Nestled in the Arctic is a glacier like no other. This glacier quakes once a minute creating seismic events that rattle the earth—more frequently than scientists have ever seen. Understanding why these icequakes are so common may help researchers predict future ice flow, a process that propels climate-driven sea level rise.