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6 December 2012
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.