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Glaciers

This category contains 17 posts
photo credit: Anne Hartwell

Glaciers have big league role in silica budget.

Glaciers get a lot of attention because they’re expansive sheets of ice. They’re important to understand because they can impact sea level, circulation, climate, albedo, and they are homes to microbial organisms and large animals. A new reason they are getting attention is their recently realized importance to the global silica budget. Researchers found that melting glaciers deliver enough silica to the surface ocean that their contribution should not be ignored.

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Melting ice shelves could be slowing down ocean circulation: Elephant seals lend a flipper to find out

Wanted: Antarctic researchers to study the formation of deep water in the coastal Antarctic seas. Job requirements: Plenty of blubber and a healthy appetite for bottom-dwelling sea creatures.

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Watermelon snow – Colorful algae speed up the melting of glaciers

Red snow algae can form massive blooms on ice sheets every summer as the snow starts to melt. But their pigments don’t just have a colorful effect – they also cause the ice sheet to melt faster.

Meltwater flows through off the Greenland Ice Sheet. Credit: Wikicommons.

Greenland ice melt may impact Atlantic Ocean temperature and climate

Paper: Claus W. Böning, et al. 2016.  Emerging impact of Greenland meltwater on deepwater formation in the North Atlantic Ocean. Nature Geoscience, v.9: 523–527. We know the ocean is warming due to climate change. But did you also know there are huge paths that heat and energy takes through the global ocean? Although the ocean […]

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Not all freshwater is created equal

Glacial runoff, precipitation, and sea ice melt all contribute to the freshwater content of the upper ocean along the west Antarctic Peninsula. Using oxygen isotope samples from water found in different areas of the continental shelf, researchers were able map the areas where different sources of freshwater are more important.

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Antarctic ice dams at risk

Source: Fürst et al. (2016), The Safety band of Antarctic ice shelves. Nature Climate Change The shrinking Antarctic As our planet warms, the melting of glaciers and polar ice caps is causing sea level rise, threatening the future of coastal cities and low lying areas around the world. This melting includes Antarctica’s ice shelves, which add […]

Fig. 4: Massive chunks of ice break off from glaciers in a process called calving (lonelyplanet.com).

Hope Floats: how icebergs are fighting climate change

An iceberg couldn’t help Leo win an Oscar, but new research highlights how icebergs may help battle climate change. Read on to find out how!

Hubbard Glacier in the St. Elias mountain range, Alaska. Credit: wikicommons.

Mountains vs. Climate, Recorded in Marine Sediment

Mountain ranges can actively evolve with Earth’s climate. A new study of the St. Elias Range in coastal Alaska demonstrates how dynamic and coupled our planet’s crust is to climate, and how we can investigate past erosion through marine sediments.

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Global Consequences of Melting the Pine Island Glacier

Melting Antarctic glaciers have major consequences on global climate. In this study, climate simulations reveal a seesaw like behavior where cooling near the south pole means warming near the north pole.

Figure 1. Cryoconite holes form on the surface of glaciers when winds deposit dark colored dust, dirt, aerosols, or other material on glaciers. The dark color of cryoconite dust absorbs more incoming solar radiation and melts faster, creating small pools of water on the surface of the glacier. Photo courtesy of climatica.org.uk

It’s a virus’ world: Glaciers host unique viral communities

Scientists have only recently started studying the wealth of biological diversity that is found on top of glaciers. Cryoconite holes hold microscopic communities of algae, bacteria, and viruses. These studies are revealing an increasingly complex web of interactions between community members, driving the evolution of many unique adaptations to survive in such stiff competition.

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Feeling the heat: how do plankton respond to glacial melting?

The current, and sometimes rapid melting of glaciers and ice sheets is a direct consequence of climate change. Glacial melting on land can leave behind newly formed ice-contact lakes, which are prevalent around the world. These lakes contain high levels of mineral particles, as well as previously trapped inorganic and organic nutrients carried by glacial meltwater. What are the chances of survival for plankton in this type of environment?

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Fizzing glaciers are louder than you’d expect

While anthropogenic noise pollution has been gaining a lot of attention, there is still much to be learned about ambient ocean noise. A team of researchers found that glaciers create some of the loudest noises in the ocean, with evolutionary implications for marine organisms living near glaciers. These findings elucidate the nature of ambient, natural ocean noise and helps further our understanding of how additional anthropogenic noise may impact these systems.

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Rotten Totten: Why is East Antarctica melting so quickly?

Like the West Antarctica Ice Sheet, East Antarctica is home to glaciers thinning at an alarming rate. The east’s Totten Glacier stores enough water to raise global sea level by 11 feet, similar to projected amounts in West Antarctica. Researchers conducted a study to find out what is causing Totten to melt so quickly. The answer lies beneath the ice.

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We’re In Deep Heat: trouble boils over in West Antarctica

An international team of researchers shows that rising ocean temperatures along West Antarctic ice shelves are linked to rising warm water from the deep ocean, and that the rate of warming is larger than previously thought. With no indication of a slow down in warming, these findings illuminate on new realities of sea level challenges likely to be faced in coming decades.

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Increasing Earth’s Plant Life Would Help Combat Warming… Right?

Everyone knows that plants are essential to life on Earth. They use up climate-altering carbon dioxide and provide us with oxygen. But what happens when plants start growing in places where they aren’t wanted? Researchers attempt to model new plant growth in the Arctic with interactions between the atmosphere and sea-ice.

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Sea ice and Albedo: Should We Be Worried?

The glaciers are melting, sea level is rising; you’ve heard it all. But did you know that both of these events are increasing how much solar energy the earth is absorbing? Scientists study 30 years of data from the Arctic Ocean to quantify the role of diminishing sea ice in global warming.

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Glacial crevasses: how deep do they go? What does it mean?

The techniques applied here provide a much needed coastal view of the Greenland ice sheets. Work done in previous studies have successfully provided insight to glacial geometry inland, however, the information yielded about ice on the edge is weak. The results of this study agree with previous work inland while also significantly refining what is known about the coast.

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