Antarctica: A Year On Ice looks incredible. The film is on wrap-up. Via The Antarctic Sun newspaper(!).
Posts tagged glaciers.
Earth from Space: Water and ice
Earth from Space is presented by Kelsea Brennan-Wessels from the ESA Web-TV virtual studios. The largest outlet glacier on Greenland’s east coast is pictured in the forty-eighth edition. Via ESA.
Trailer for Chasing Ice, an insane enviromentary that has swept-up dozens of awards. Scientists risk their lives over three-years to record the death of several of the world’s last remaining glaciers. Our glaciers are melting, disappearing faster than thought possible, and all due to a warming earth.
Sea ice is any form of ice found at sea that originated from the freezing of sea water. It is the most visible feature of the Arctic Ocean, with its extent waxing and waning with the seasons. Ice thickness is highly variable, ranging from a thin veneer to tens of meters. While the existence of sea ice reflects the cold conditions inherent to high latitudes, sea ice also strongly modulates the energy budget and climate of the Arctic and beyond, particularly because it is white, and hence reflects much of the sun’s energy back to space (it has a high albedo) and also through acting as a lid, insulating the underlying ocean from a generally much colder atmosphere.
Historically, at its maximum extent in March, Arctic sea ice covered an area more than 15 million square kilometers, somewhat less than twice the size of the contiguous United States. The minimum extent, occurring in September, the end of the melt season, was typically around 7.0 x106 km2. However, as assessed over the modern satellite record spanning 1979 to the present, Arctic sea ice extent exhibits downward linear trends for all months, weakest in winter and strongest for September. The downward September trend appears to have accelerated over the past decade. Through 2001, the September trend stood at -7.0% per decade. Through 2012, it was more than twice as large at -14.3% per decade. The six lowest September extents in the satellite record have all occurred in the past six years, with September of 2012 setting a new low mark. Decreased summer ice extent has been accompanied by large reductions in winter ice thicknesses that are primarily explained by changes in the ocean’s coverage of thick multiyear ice (MYI). MYI is ice that has survived at least one summer melt season. In the mid-1980s, MYI accounted for 70% of total winter ice extent, whereas by the end of 2012 it had dropped to less than 20%. At the same time the proportion of ice older than 5 years declined from 50% of the MYI pack to less than 8%.
Ice loss is also contributing to strong rises in Arctic air temperature during autumn and winter, not just at the surface, but extending through a considerable depth of the atmosphere. As discussed, sea ice acts as a lid, insulating the underlying ocean from a generally much colder atmosphere. With less ice, the insulating effect is weaker, so heat can readily be transferred from the ocean to the atmosphere above. This strong warming, termed Arctic amplification, is starting to extend beyond areas of ice loss to influence Arctic land areas.
Continued loss of the ice cover is in turn likely to impact on patterns of atmospheric circulation and precipitation not just within the Arctic, but into middle latitudes; there is evidence that this is already occurring. The basic reason for this is that the outsized warming of the Arctic changes the atmospheric stability and temperature differences between the Arctic and lower latitudes. Finally, as the ice cover retreats, the Arctic is becoming more accessible for marine shipping as well as oil and natural gas exploration, increasing the economic and strategic importance of the region.
Dr. Mark Brandon, a Polar Oceanographer (@icey_mark), discusses how humans impact the Arctic. It’s a high-level talk, meaning it’s easy to follow and not very sciencey. He makes much use of the fact that fire retardants are routinely found in the fat of polar bears and other animals to show how our pollution travels north.
Cruise over glaciers in Greenland. Researchers use aerial footage for data collection and monitoring.
Few of us ever get to see Greenland’s glaciers from 500 meters above the ice. But in this video — recorded on April 9,2013 in southeast Greenland using a cockpit camera installed and operated by the National Suborbital Education and Research Center, or NSERC — we see what Operation IceBridge’s pilots see as they fly NASA’s P-3B airborne laboratory low over the Arctic.
Following a glacier’s sometimes winding flow line gives IceBridge researchers a perspective on the ice not possible from satellites which pass in straight lines overhead. By gathering such data, IceBridge is helping to build a continuous record of change in the polar regions.
Some pictures I took in Alaska a few years ago. Seward, Homer, and a glacier in Kenai NP. That sea otter was fear free and huge - looked like a person floating in the water. And bald eagles were everywhere in Homer, this one was medium sized.
Secretary Kerry: It is vital that we’ve come to this moment where we begin to see that this is not just an environmental issue. This is a security issue. It’s an economic security issue. It’s a national security issue. Read Secretary Kerry’s complete remarks at the Ross Sea Conservation Reception: http://www.state.gov/secretary/remarks/2013/03/206395.htm.
In the photo, pods of killer whales, sometimes 100 strong, patrol the ice edges in the Ross Sea, 2007. [John B. Weller photo, courtesy of The Pew Charitable Trusts]
Australasian Antarctic Expedition, 1911-1914.
Photo by Frank Hurley. Published in The home of the blizzard by Douglas Mawson, London (1915).
The story of the Australasian Antarctic Expedition is one of the greatest survival stories in the history of exploration. We just published Alone on the Ice by David Roberts that tells Mawson’s incredible story.
The Dark Snow Project is about 50% funded. Scientists believe that increased droughts are causing more wildfires. These fires emit soot and ash into the air, called ‘black carbon.’ This black carbon circulates through the atmosphere and is deposited (in part) on glaciers and sea ice.
Scientists are finding that the black carbon absorbs heat from the sun, in turn causing the ice to melt faster than expected. The effect of melting ice is faster sea level rise, which will impact (in the least) coastal cities around the world.
The unique part of this project is that it is mostly funded by citizens like you. Really good project and highly recommend visiting their website, darksnowproject.org.
Dark Snow Project: Climate Change and Citizen Science in Greenland
For the dark snow project to succeed, your help is needed.
Please visit darksnowproject.org and consider a tax deductible donation to this unique citizen science initiative, and helping expand the boundaries of knowledge in this critical area of climate science
by Peter Sinclair.
In a confusing Press Release, the United Nations urges countries to protect AND develop the Arctic as glaciers and ice melt. On the one hand, the PR urges stronger legal and environmental regulations. On the other, it urges northern countries to cooperate as they exploit the Arctic’s vast resources of oil, gas, minerals, and fish: “the Arctic Council …is formed by Canada, Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway, Russia, Sweden and the US has a crucial role to play in ensuring any resource exploitation is done responsibly.”
Confused? Yeah, me too…
Lovely shot of an Alaskan glacier.
Glacier Bay National Park, Alaska
My obsession with the How Stuff Works polar exploration post continues… Look at all these fascinating firsts: First motorcycle trip to the North Pole? First all-female expedition? First SWIM?!! Amazing.
“There continue to be many North Pole “firsts” — it’s a wonder that people aren’t bumping into each other on their journeys. Here are just a few of the history-makers:
- First black man: Matthew Henson reached the North Pole in 1909 as part of the Robert Peary expedition.
- First confirmed flight over the North Pole: Norwegian Roald Amundsen (with Umberto Nobile, Lincoln Ellsworth and 11 others) on May 12, 1926, at 1:30 a.m. in an airship.
- First submarine: the USS Nautilus was the first to navigate under the Pole on Aug. 3, 1958.
- First solo journey by dogsled: Naomi Uemura of Japan, reached the North Pole on April 29, 1978, after covering 450 miles in 57 days.
- First woman: Ann Bancroft, the only female member of the Steger International Polar Expedition, in 1986
- First motorcycle trip: Fukashi Kazami (Shinji Kazama) on April 20, 1987
- First solo, unsupported trip: Norwegian Borge Ousland, on April 23, 1994
- First unsupported journey to the North Pole and back: Richard Weber (of Canada) and Mikhail Malakhov (of Russia) took a 121-day journey, ending on May 12, 1995.
- First all-female expedition to reach the North Pole: McVitie’s Penguin Polar Relay Team, May 26, 1997
- First successful hot-air balloon trip: Debbie Harding became the first person to lead a hot-air balloon flight over the Pole in 1998.
- First long-distance swim at the North Pole: Lewis Gordon Pugh made it .6 miles (1 kilometer) in 29 F (-2 C) saltwater in July 2007. According to a report in the Christian Science Monitor, Pugh had no permanent damage after the plunge, but the fingers on one hand stayed numb for several days [source: Lamb].
- First black woman: Barbara Hillary was 75 years old when she reached the North Pole in April 2007.”
A selection of gorgeous images captured by Landsat 7:
- Antarctic Pack Ice
- Antarctica’s Byrd Glacier
- Mount Etna, Italy
- The meandering Mississippi River
- Vatnajokull Glacier in Iceland
Sea level at the Boston tide gauge has risen about a foot (.25 meters) since records began in 1921. Most of that rise is due to the expansion of ocean waters due to global warming, plus increased melting from glaciers and icecaps.
According to an excellent analysis by Andrew Freedman of Climate Central, continued sea level rise in Boston will increase the odds of a 1-in-100 year coastal storm surge flood by a factor of 2.5 by the year 2030. Even given the low end of sea level rise scenarios, and without assuming any changes in storms, 1-in-10-year coastal flooding events in the Northeast could triple by 2100, occurring roughly once every 3 years, simply in response to higher sea levels (Tebaldi et al. 2012).
Nemo arrives just days after a report the nonprofit Boston Harbor Alliance warned of the region’s growing vulnerability to such storm surge events. The report found that coastal flooding of 5 feet above the current average high tide—a 1-in-100 year flood—would inundate 6.6 percent of the city of Boston.
At 7.5 feet above the current average high tide, more than 30 percent of Boston could be flooded, the study found. Boston has gotten lucky two storms in row now—both Hurricane Sandy (storm surge of 4.57’) and Winter Storm Nemo (storm surge of 4.21’) brought their peak surge near low tide, so the water level during these storms did not make the top-ten list, even though these were two of the four highest storm surges ever measured in Boston.
Mr. Burt comments, “it is a bit unsettling that two of the most significant storms in the past 300 years to strike the northeastern quadrant of the U.S. have occurred within just four months from one another.”
Rising sea levels are already making coastal living at low elevations an increasingly precarious proposition in the Northeast. If Sandy and Nemo are harbingers of a new era of stronger storms for the Northeast U.S., the double-whammy combination of bigger storm surges riding in on higher sea levels will make abandoning higher-risk portions of the coast a necessity.