Search Results for Tag: glaciers
On the trail of the truth about Greenland
Running for campus…
Let me recommend you a website and the book it’s based on.I’ve seen it here and it’s very impressive:Arctic Tipping Points
is the title, and it contains some beautiful and in some cases moving images relating to climate change and the Arctic. The editors are Carlos Duarte (quoted in earlier post) and Paul Wassmann (University of Tromsö.
(No tipping point for these swings)
I have been following the presentations dealing with the Greenland ice sheet closely. Sometimes it is a little frustrating when speakers hint at important results of studies which they cannot reveal fully ahead of publication. If you guys are trying to increase the suspense and arouse my interest in reports coming out in the next few months – you have succeeded. On the other hand, it seems a pity, with quite a few journalists sitting in the conference, that we can’t use the opportunity to pass on some interesting results. Unfortunate timing, it seems some of the reports were originally planned to have been ready. But let me sum up what I can here.
Peter Wadhams, Professor of Ocean Physics at the University of Cambridge introduced the strain of the conference dedicated to “ice-ocean-atmosphere interactions in the Arctic”. He refered to very large changes on the Greenland ice sheet, with very large areas of melt occurring in summer and a substantial net flux of fresh water into the sea every year. Now that is one of the key factors in measuring the changes. He told us the amount was almost the same as the total melt from mountain glaciers, suggesting this could be making a comparable contribution to global sea level rise as melt from all the rest of the glaciers in the world put together. He stressed the rate of melt on Greenland is accelerating and scientists just don’t know how the acceleration rate will continue.
Lars Otto Reiersen is the Executive Secretary for AMAP, the Arctic Monitoring and Assessment Programme. He reported on the SWiPA (Project) (Snow, Water, Ice and Permafrost in the Arctic), which is preparing a report to be presented to a meeting of Arctic ministers in May. (sigh!) Suffice it to say, he indicated that when it comes to the mass balance of the Greenland ice sheet, the updated figures will show even higher melt. All will be revealed in a few months, it seems. And it will not be cheery reading.
Late afternoon impression of Tromsö campus while the weather was still beautiful (some like it cold). It is thawing at the moment, but forecast to cool again soon.
DateJanuary 27, 2011 | 3:55 pm
Climate change in pictures while you wait…
Alaska and south America are the regions where the glaciers are currently melting fastest, according to a report released in Cancun. I experienced that first-hand in Alaska in 2008, when I started the ice blog.
This is one of the pictures taken from the Begich Boggs glacier visitors centre. There’s a visiting centre purpose built to see the Portage glacier – but where the glacier has retreated so far it’s no longer visible from this point at all.In 2008, we were told it had receded more than 2 miles in 70 years.
On the last official day of Cancun, the wrangling is still going on – same procedure as every year? A freelance colleague dropped in just now . “There doesn’t seem to be anything happening in Cancun”.. he said. Yeah, that seems to be the feeling. My colleague Nathan Witkop from the Living Planet programme is there. You might like to read
his latest summary while you’re waiting.
I’ve also been keeping an eye on the Global Ideas blog You might enjoy a look at that.
And if you are interested in watching some more pictures and video and reading/hearing from some researchers in the field, have a look at these pictures from Lars Hansen who took some great shots at the Zackenberg Monitoring Station in Greenland.
That will all help pass the time waiting for the Cancun closer…
DateDecember 10, 2010 | 2:31 pm
Alpine glaciers dwindling away
I’m back! No more excuses, autumn is here and the extended summer break is definitely over.
But as expected, my trip to some of Switzerland’s beautiful alpine glaciers this summer provided some worrying evidence. Hiking in the Saastal or Saas valley, an area I first discovered in 1984 and have visited at irregular intervals since, the differences in the extent of some of the glaciers was striking.
Let me give you a few pictures. I’d like to show you some of the 1984 shots alongside, but since that was definitely the pre-digital age, they are not so easily available. And you can still see quite clearly how the glaciers are changing.
This is the area around Saas-Fee in Wallis or Valais, Switzerland. You can see the glaciers stop fairly high up. In 1984, the view was very different. Switzerland’s glaciers are melting rapidly as the earth warms.
Just over a year ago, more than 200’000 cubic metres of ice broke off the “Feegletscher”.
This is a popular walking trail above Saas Fee. The glacier to the right of the picture, used to be really close to the path.
Another shot of the retreating glacier.I have an old photo of trees against the background of white ice, taken very close to the path.
This is the “Bidergletscher”. It’s taken from a hiking trail. When we first walked this path, you could climb up to the glacier without too much effort. Now it’s high above.
This is the area around Mount Allalin, one of the impressive 4000 metre + peaks that make this area so special. Beautiful, but changing fast.
Isn’t ice beautiful? The formations here remind me of corals.
The idea of covering glaciers to protect them from summer sun seems to be quite widespread in the Alps at the moment. It seems to me like a very desperate measure. Some of the locals I talked to were not impressed. On the whole, though, people don’t seem to be as worried as you’d expect.
The average annual temperature in most areas of the Swiss apls has risen by one to two degrees over the last 100 years. A study by the University of Zürich (2006) suggest the alpine glaciers could lose 80% of their surface area if summer temperatures rise by 3 degrees.
There is more information at Swiss glacier monitoring network
DateOctober 13, 2010 | 1:57 pm
Summer break for the ice-blogger
Time for reflections…
I have persuaded myself to travel without a laptop this summer.But I will have my camera, so there may be some new glacier pics in the autumn (although the European glaciers I will be visiting have been retreating considerably).
Please look in to the Ice Blog again in OCTOBER…..
DateAugust 4, 2010 | 10:01 am
Scientists and the Media
The University Centre in Svalbard (UNIS) in Longyearbyen is the world’s northernmost higher education institution. Unsurprisingly, Arctic biology, geology, geophysics and technology are the specialities here.
(Glaciology Prof. Doug Benn with colleagues heading for field trip to Longyearbyen glaciers – and me at the start of the trip with them.)
I was glad to have the chance to meet up with some of the experts. As well as Gunnar Sand, mentioned in a previous post as Director of the Longyearbyen CO2 Lab, I had the chance to talk to Professor Hanne Christiansen
an expert on permafrost and head of Arctic Geology at UNIS,
(on the staircase outside her office at UNIS)
and Professor Doug Benn pictured in the last entry heading up to the glaciers with two junior colleages.
As well as Arctic permafrost and glaciers (more on both later)I was interested to hear their views on climate change in general and the role of the media in particular. I was not surprised to encounter some wariness from scientists working out on the field towards journalists in view of the huge dimensions the controversy over climate has taken on in the media. Let me just share a statement from Doug Benn, who runs a field project in the Himalayas as well as his work in the Arctic, on the debate – and fuss – over the wrong figure in the IPCC report and the ensuing lack of confidence in the IPCC and even climate science in general. Doug stresses the procedure by which the error got into the report shows up serious deficits, but he also sees a lot of responsibility for what followed with the media.
“The whole impact of that whole debate was amplified both in terms of the disaster scenarios and the credibility of the IPCC by the way that media covered that particular issue. And in fact what happens is that science carries on on a much more level keel. Science is not undergoing the same mood swings that the media went through on that. The majority of scientists are plugging away, gathering good data on environmental changes that are going on, quietly publishing their results in journals, and slowly a view emerges. And so I do think it would be good if the media could correct its tendencies to go for the sensation, and of course there’s a long tradition in the media that anything that’s new and exciting is going to get prominence. But actually that does not serve science well. Mostly science proceeds by slow, careful steps and gradually pictures emerge and it takes us a long time to make up our minds about what’s happening in particular systems. Now over the whole issue of climate change and the global impact of climate change both governments and the media and indeed environmental organisations have been rather impatient, and they want definitive statements about what’s happening, we want action, we want decisions made now. And the way science works is not really compatible with that. I think the headlong rush into declaring global warming as a global disaster has been rash. This is not to say we don’t face environmental challenges, but simply that the rush has been unfortunate and actually we still need to do good science, to think critically about things. And as soon as you replace critical investigation with belief and dogma, you’re no longer doing science. Science needs the media, but it does have rather an uneasy relation with it because of these things I’ve been talking about. “
Thanks for taking the time to share those thoughts, Doug.
DateJune 7, 2010 | 9:27 am