The immense and forbidding Southern Ocean is famous for howling gales and devilish swells that have tested mariners for centuries. But its true strength lies beneath the waves.
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An alarming crackup has begun at the foot of Antarctica’s vulnerable Thwaites Glacier, whose meltwater is already responsible for about 4% of global sea level rise. An ice sheet the size of Florida, Thwaites ends its slide into the ocean as a floating ledge of ice 45 kilometers wide. But now, this ice shelf, riven by newly detected fissures on its surface and underside, is likely to break apart in the next 5 years or so, scientists reported today at a meeting of the American Geophysical Union.
Greenland ice sheet experiences record loss to calving of glaciers and ocean melt over the past year
Greenland has had a quite a year. For the first time in its history, rain fell at its summit. In August, it experienced one of the latest-occurring melt events in recent memory. This also became the third year with major melting events in the past decade.
Researchers at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Southern California and the University of California, Irvine, have discovered an ice process that may have caused a Delaware-size iceberg to break off Antarctica’s immense Larsen C ice shelf in the Southern Hemisphere winter of 2017. The finding that mélange – a mixture of windblown snow, iceberg bits, and sea ice lodged in and around ice shelves – is critical in holding ice shelves together implies that these ice shelves may break up even faster than scientists had expected due to rising air temperatures.
Clouds are one of the biggest wildcards in predictions of how much and how fast the Arctic will continue to warm in the future. Depending on the time of the year and the changing environment in which they form and exist, clouds can both act to warm and cool the surface below them.
Scientists are racing to collect ice cores – along with long-frozen records they hold of climate cycles – as global warming melts glaciers and ice sheets. Some say they are running out of time. And, in some cases, it’s already too late.
“We started hearing a noise, like breaking, or coins falling,” says Marco Tedesco, a climate scientist at Columbia University’s Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory. He makes a loud, sustained crunching sound, recreating what he and his team heard, years earlier, while doing fieldwork on the Greenland Ice Sheet.
But this summer, the north state’s tallest peak is looking a little frail. Its slopes are drab and dusty, and most of the snow has melted away. Locals say they haven’t seen the mountain so barren in years, if not decades.
Greenland is experiencing its most significant melting event of the year as temperatures in the Arctic surge. The amount of ice that melted on Tuesday alone would be enough to cover the entire state of Florida in two inches of water. It’s the third instance of extreme melting in the past decade, during which time the melting has stretched farther inland than the entire satellite era, which began in the 1970s.
Diana Six’s love of the outdoors began before she could form words, run, or collect the bugs and fungi that were precious to her as a child. A tough home life eventually led her to drop out of school and live on the streets. But biology classes in community college helped Six discover her calling in studying various forms of life. “They took me right back to how I was as a kid,” she says.