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13 October 2014

Health check reveals how glacier is declining due to warming climate

Researchers from the British Geological Survey have taken the very first comprehensive health check of a rapidly melting glacier. Their latest study reveals that their icy patient, the Falljökull glacier in southeast Iceland, has been dramatically declining as it tries to adjust to recent changes in the climate.


24 June 2014

The risky business of climate change

Up to $106 billion worth of coastal homes and businesses in the U.S. are likely to be underwater by the year 2050 due to rising sea levels, and up to $507 billion in coastal property will likely be below sea level by 2100, according to a new report released today. The report is based in part on a new study on sea level rise in Earth’s Future, a journal of the American Geophysical Union.


20 May 2014

New research questions emerge from Arctic melting

What is hidden within and beneath Arctic ice? Why does winter matter? What is being irretrievably lost as the Arctic changes?

These are just some of the emerging questions that scientists are being challenged to answer about the rapidly changing Arctic in a new report, “The Arctic in the Anthropocene: Emerging Research Questions,” released last month by the National Research Council’s Committee on Emerging Research Questions.


30 December 2012

I was dreaming of a white Christmas, but geology got in the way

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

As air columns collapse, glaciers tremble

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

Shelter from the Snowball

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.


Rocky “Bumps” Anchor Antarctic Glaciers

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

Scientists simulate growing role of Arctic climate culprit

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

Antarctic ice streams start and stop as they slide

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

Receding Alaskan glaciers could disrupt gulf food chain

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

Frigid Life May Be Powered By Heat

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

Chimney Bluffs State Park: Drumlin hunting

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

Buzz saws and armour! How ice can be a mountain belt's best friend

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

See geoscientists screw in dangerous places

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

A long weekend outdoors

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

The week outdoors

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

Why yes, I do have goals

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 …