Archive by category | Cryosphere

Melting icebergs raise the sea level

Cross-posted from Quirin Schiermeier on The Great Beyond Since 1994, around 750 cubic kilometers of floating ice – equivalent to the volume of Lake Titicaca in Bolivia – have been melting each year around the Arctic Ocean and off Antarctica, an analysis of satellite observation has revealed. The massive loss of sea ice actually adds a wee bit to global sea level rise, scientists report in a paper in Geophysical Research Letters. Popular belief has it that the melting of drifting icebergs and floating ice shelves has no effect on the height of the surrounding sea level just like melting  … Read more

Time to unleash seabed methane?

Time to unleash seabed methane?

A new reservoir of fossil fuel could be ready to tap much sooner than previously thought. R&Ders have been talking up natural gas extraction from methane hydrates – a solid form of the greenhouse gas, found tucked away beneath the sea floor where low temperature and high pressure keep it stable.  Read more

Timeline: Ice memory

Some of scientists’ gravest concerns about future climate change are rooted in the past. Records studied by paleoclimatologists reveal that the more extreme possibilities for this century and beyond — temperatures soaring, ice sheets vanishing, fertile lands withering into deserts — were realized previously on Earth when atmospheric greenhouse gas levels surged. At this summer’s AGU Chapman Conference on Abrupt Climate Change, researchers described this turbulent history through all manner of proxies – ice, tree rings, corals, marine and lake sediments, among others. But few talks went without a slide showing the wiggly line of a deep ice core.  Read more

Interview: Lonnie Thompson

Interview: Lonnie Thompson

At the AGU Chapman Conference last month I met up with Lonnie Thompson, the alpine glaciologist who has spent more time above 20,000 feet than any other human. Despite being interrupted by last-minute demands from Peruvian customs officials – he was squeezing me in before taking off for a new expedition in the Andes – an unphased Thompson carefully laid out the past and present-day climate change that his work has uncovered. Here’s an extract: What information can you garner from glaciers? Glaciers are like sentinels, and they’re telling us that the system is changing. The first thing we look  … Read more

Q&A: Observing the scars of the Arctic thaw

Jane Qiu has an interesting interview on Nature News with aquatic ecologist Breck Bowden of the University of Vermont, who is heading up new research looking at what happens when thawing ground in the Arctic begins to fall apart. Here’s an excerpt:  … Read more