Water from the world’s shrinking glaciers was responsible for almost a third of the rise in sea levels between 2003 and 2009, shows new research.
An international team of scientist compared data gleaned from two NASA satellites as well as traditional ground measurements from glaciers around the world.
Their work, published in the journal Science , is the most accurate estimation of how glaciers contribute to sea level rises to date.
“For the first time, we’ve been able to very precisely constrain how much these glaciers as a whole are contributing to sea rise,” says lead author Assistant Professor Alex Gardner, assistant geography professor at Clark University in Worcester, Massachusetts.
“These smaller ice bodies are currently losing about as much mass as the ice sheets.”
The most significant ice losses occurred in Arctic Canada, Alaska, coastal Greenland, the southern Andes and the Himalayas, the study found.
The glaciers outside of the Greenland and Antarctic sheets lost an average of roughly 260 billion metric tons of ice annually during the period, leading to a rise in ocean levels of about 0.7 millimeters per year.
By contrast the glaciers in Antarctica, smaller ice masses that are not connected to the ice sheet, made scarcely any contribution to sea-level rise over the study period.
AMAP is one of five Working Groups of the Arctic Council.
The primary function of AMAP is to advise the governments of the eight Arctic countries (Canada, Denmark/Greenland, Finland, Iceland, Norway, Russia, Sweden and the United States) on matters relating to threats to the Arctic region from pollution, and associated issues.
If you are wandering around Greenland’s ice sheet and you run into this crazy thing, it is NASA’s GROVER (government acronym for something Goddard Remotely Operated Vehicle for Exploration and Research). It is solar powered and it crawls around Greenland on its own and uses ground-penetrating radar to look at ice. And it’s cool.
NASA robot explores ice in Greenland. Video. Will explore for months at a time via remote. Possibly prototype to explore other planets.
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.
This video is a collage of scenes of the Ilulissat ice fjord and the Greenland ice cap. Some of the images are stunning. Ice bergs. Sled dogs. A helicopter departing, the snow it disrupts and the people it leaves behind to sleep in a tent.
As part of the show tomorrow, Dave Davies talks with New York Times environmental reporter Justin Gillis about climate change and they talk a bit about Greenland so if you hear the interview tomorrow, you can now say that you know something of what that place called Greenland looks like.
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
From the 15th through the 20th century, the Doctrine of Discovery was recognized by European and American explorers as the go-to guideline for ownership of territory. The doctrine uses a basic “first-come, first-served” rule — a region belongs to whatever country got there first. Remember how the United States “won” the race to the moon in 1969 by planting a flag on the lunar surface?
Today, the United Nations has taken control of the issue. According to the U.N. Convention on the Laws of the Sea, claims to the North Pole are based on a country’s continental shelf (undersea extensions of land).
In 2007, Russian mini-submarines — on a mission to explore natural gas and oil deposits under the North Pole — planted Russian flags below the Arctic ice. The Canadians were not pleased, mostly because they claim that the North Pole is theirs. So do Denmark (via Greenland), Norway and the United States.
The Kangerdlugssuaq glacier and its ice stream - Greenland
It is the largest outlet glacier on Greenland’s east coast, discharging ice into the surrounding oceans. In this image we can see hundreds of icebergs speckling the water. A recent study based on satellite observations revealed that over the past 20 years the ice melting in Greenland and Antarctica has contributed about 11 mm to the global sea-level rise.
This image clearly shows the glacier’s calving front, where ice breaks away. Over the years, satellite images have shown that this front has retreated – an indication that the glacier is getting smaller over time.
Over the past decade, the Greenland ice sheet has been getting darker, and less reflective, absorbing more solar energy. This past summer a record breaking melt extended over the entire surface area of the ice sheet.
Greenland expert Jason Box has been studying and publishing about this phenomenon, and has become concerned about the possible role of increasing wildfires worldwide, and increased darkening of the ice sheets.
The only way to nail the science is to go to the top of the ice sheet and take samples - Dr Box, along with Bill Mckibben, and videographer Peter Sinclair, are kicking off the Dark Snow project to raise funds for for such an expedition, the first crowd-sourced scientific expedition to the arctic.
The U.S. Embassy in Iceland might be 70 people. Europe’s largest presence is France, with only a 20 person embassy. Why would China need one with 500 people?
The answer? Natural resources. Aluminum, rare earth metals, oil, gas, copper, gold, and possibly diamonds are irresistible wealth opportunities in the Arctic region. Melting ice will give way to new mega-mining operations like never seen before.
Then Mr. Degeorges answered his own question about China’s need — or desire — for such a large embassy in Reykjavik: “It gives you the long-term perspective that you can expect in Iceland.”
Everyone is jostling for space in the melting Arctic these days, it seems, as my colleague Elisabeth Rosenthal recently reported. That includes China, which has no Arctic territory.
Yet as the Arctic ice cap melts, it is revealing riches — principally minerals, including important rare earths, but also water, oil and gas. Greenland potentially has up to 10 percent of the world’s freshwater reserves, Mr. Degeorges said.
Greenland’s ice and glaciers are melting fast, exposing ultra-rare minerals and gems deposits like no other on the entire planet. Gold, diamonds, coal, uranium, possibly oil and gas, and rare-earth metals (a very rare mineral-ore used to make cell phones) are among the many riches to be dug up.
A mining boom is about to completely change the island forever. We’re witnessing it right now. Glaciers are melting, exposing rock underneath that is packed with profits.
This means a tidal wave of money is about to crush centuries of culture, tradition, and local community. Many locals can’t wait for it to happen.
These screens are clipped from this fantastic article covering the economic boom Greenland is about to experience due to the big melt. It’s a beautifully shot video. And these pics do not do it justice. Have a look.
A blog about the interactions between the built environment, people, and nature.
I'm a climate change consultant specializing in climate adaptation, environmental law, and urban planning based in the U.S. In addition to traveling and hiking, I research, publish, and lecture on how cities can adapt to climate change.
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