Before you do anything else, you must watch this magnificent storytelling of the annual flooding from the Mendenhall Glacier…

Melting Ice & Snow

MELTING ICE & SNOW

Melting glaciers and ice sheets in Greenland and Antarctica have a direct and profound impact on sea-level rise.

Greenland’s ice sheet is losing mass about six times faster than it was a few decades ago. In the past fifty years, the sheet has already shed enough to add about half an inch of water to the world’s oceans. In just this last summer’s heat wave, meltwater — equivalent to over 4 million swimming pools — sloughed into the ocean in a single day.

Antarctica, that frigid expanse of land at the Earth’s Southern pole, is covered by 90% of the planet’s ice. If all of its ice were to melt, sea levels would rise by 190 feet. It is melting at an alarming rate, with the rate of thaw tripling over the past decade and losing 2.71 trillion tons of ice between 1992 and 2017 with half of these losses occurring in the past five years, shrinking to record low levels

Melting ice is not limited to the poles and is happening around the world: Alaska’s sea ice has all melted; the glaciers of the Himalayas are melting twice as fast as they were in 2000; the Patagonian icefields are a fraction of their previous size. Iceland marked its first loss of a glacier to climate change with a funeral, and the Swiss followed suit with a funeral for the Pizol glacier in the Alps. 

And, then there is our own ice melt.

Diana Six, an entomologist at the U. of Montana, recently returned from a trip to Montana’s Glacial National Park, where the 97/98˚heat had decimated the ice. In despair, she said, “I don’t think people realize that climate change is not just a loss of ice. It’s all the stuff that’s dependent on it. The water is too warm for the fish. At some of the lower elevations, glacier lilies were shriveled, lupins didn’t even open. The flowers should extend for another three weeks but they’re already gone. Any insects or birds that depend upon them, like bees or hummingbirds are in trouble, their food is gone. Bird populations have just baked. There have been total losses of a lot of baby birds this year. You see these ospreys and eagles sitting on top of the trees in their nests and those young, they just can’t take the heat.”

CURRENT NEWS

Thwaites ‘Doomsday Glacier’ in Antarctica is melting much faster than predicted

By Stephen J. Beard 05/25/24
A study released this week added new fears to the fate of an important glacier in Antarctica and its impact on sea-level rise. The Thwaites Glacier on the vast West Antarctica Ice Sheet is commonly…
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Venezuela becomes first country to lose all of its glaciers

By Ehren Wynder 05/09/24
Venezuela is the first country in modern history to lose all of its glaciers after climate scientists declared its remaining glacier little more than an ice field.
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Arctic permafrost is now a net source of major greenhouse gases

By Alec Luhn 04/12/24
Areas of permanently frozen ground in northern regions are now emitting more carbon into the atmosphere than they absorb, causing the planet to heat even further, according to the first Arctic-wide estimate of all three…
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The Arctic Ocean could be ‘ice-free’ within the decade, researchers warn

By Hayley Smith 03/05/24
The loss of Arctic sea ice has long been a graphic measure of human-caused climate change, with wrenching images of suffering polar bears illustrating a worsening planetary crisis. Now, new research has found that Arctic…
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It Just Got Easier to Visit a Vanishing Glacier. Is That a Good Thing?

By Paige McClanahan 03/03/24
Claude Folmer was about 40 years old the first time he visited the Mer de Glace, the largest glacier in the French Alps. He remembers enjoying the panoramic view from the observation platform, then taking…
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Why Warmer Winters Won’t Make You Happier, According to Psychologists

By Jeva Lange 01/29/24
Does everything actually suck right now? Or is it just the end of January? It can be difficult to tell. We’re officially in the thick of what Americans consider to be the worst time of…
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Antarctica is warming faster than anywhere else on Earth. Are tourists making it worse?

By Christopher Muther 01/05/24
Boston resident Stephen Monk recalls the sound vividly. He was kayaking with fellow passengers while on a cruise to Antarctica. Suddenly, the instructor told the group to stop, remain still, and listen.
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This Antarctic Octopus Has a Warning About Rising Sea Levels

By Delger Erdenesanaa 12/21/23
Scientists have long wondered whether the West Antarctic Ice Sheet is a ticking time bomb in terms of sea level rise. New evidence from the DNA of a small octopus that lives in the Southern…
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Scientists uncover a surprising phenomenon in the Himalayas that might be slowing the effects of climate change

By Allison Chinchar 12/12/23
Glaciers in the Himalayas are melting rapidly, but a new report showed an astonishing phenomenon in the world’s tallest mountain range could be helping to slow the effects of the global climate crisis.
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Fifty years ago, eight Americans set off for South America to climb Aconcagua, one of the world’s mightiest mountains.

By John Branch 12/09/23
High on Aconcagua, the Western Hemisphere’s highest mountain, the shrinking Polish Glacier spits out what it once devoured — in this case, a 50-year-old Nikomat 35-millimeter camera. Two porters, preparing for an upcoming expedition, had…
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Local cooling and drying induced by Himalayan glaciers under global warming

By Franco Salerno and others 12/04/23
Understanding the response of Himalayan glaciers to global warming is vital because of their role as a water source for the Asian subcontinent. However, great uncertainties still exist on the climate drivers of past and…
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New maps show where snowfall is disappearing

By Eric Zerkel 11/25/23
Snowfall is declining globally as temperatures warm because of human-caused climate change, a new analysis and maps from a NOAA climate scientist show.
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KEY RESOURCES

What Greenland’s melting ice sheet means for you

12/28/23
Recent studies of Greenland’s enormous ice sheet are helping to illuminate our planet’s past and present — in ways that inform our vision of our future. Several of the articles included below are especially engaging…

Hidden Water: The Suicide Basin Outburst Flood

08/10/23
On a sunny day in July 2011, the Mendenhall River in Juneau, Alaska began to flood. The water inundated roads, backyards, and a nearby campground, taking the community by surprise.

Ice Sheets

01/29/22
The Greenland and Antarctic ice sheets are losing significant amounts of land-based ice as a result of human-caused global warming. Data from NASA's GRACE and GRACE Follow-On satellites show that the land ice sheets in…

Five Facts to Help You Understand Sea Ice

10/20/21
One way that scientists monitor climate change is through the measure of sea ice extent. Sea ice extent is the area of ice that covers the Arctic Ocean at a given time. Sea ice plays…

Climate Change Indicators: Snow and Ice

05/18/21
The Earth’s surface contains many forms of snow and ice, including sea, lake, and river ice; snow cover; glaciers, ice caps, and ice sheets; and frozen ground. Climate change can dramatically alter the Earth’s snow-…

New Study Identifies Mountain Snowpack Most “At-Risk” from Climate Change

03/01/21
CPO-funded scientists theorize why snowpack in coastal regions, the Arctic, and the Western U.S. may be among the most at-risk for premature melt from rising temperatures

Polar Tales: The Future of Ice, Life, and the Arctic (2020)

02/24/21
The Arctic is the ground zero of climate change, and the polar bear is on the front line. Filled with groundbreaking photography that reveals the breathtaking landscapes of the Arctic and the transformations of the…

Antarctica: The Waking Giant (2020)

02/24/21
Winner of three 2020 International Photography Awards and named Photographer of the Year from the Tokyo International Awards, explorer Sebastian Copeland's stunning photography delivers unparalleled access to the least explored continent on Earth and galvanizes…

Rate of mass loss from the Greenland Ice Sheet will exceed Holocene values this century

10/08/20
The Greenland Ice Sheet (GIS) is losing mass at a high rate1. Given the short-term nature of the observational record, it is difficult to assess the historical importance of this mass-loss trend.

Widespread Biological Response to Rapid Warming on the Antarctic Peninsula

10/01/20
First Peninsula-wide assessment of biological sensitivity to recent warming.

The Ice at the End of the World (2019)

03/28/20
A riveting, urgent account of the explorers and scientists racing to understand the rapidly melting ice sheet in Greenland, a dramatic harbinger of climate change.

Operation IceBridge mission

09/10/19
NASA’s Operation IceBridge images Earth's polar ice in unprecedented detail to better understand processes that connect the polar regions with the global climate system.

MORE NEWS

Why collapsing glaciers are ruining your beach house plans

By Hayes Brown   11/20/23  
In the movie “Superman” (the original 1978 one with Christopher Reeve as the Man of Steel and Gene Hackman as Lex Luthor), the plot revolves around a scheme to transform property in California that’s miles…
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Two Studies on Greenland Reveal Ominous Signs for Sea Level Rise

By Delger Erdenesanaa   11/09/23  
Greenland’s mountain glaciers and floating ice shelves are melting faster than they were just a few decades ago and becoming destabilized, according to two separate studies published this week.
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Oregon Cascades, Western states losing glaciers, new analysis finds

By Alex Baumhardt   10/29/23  
Across the contiguous Western U.S., glaciers are slowly disappearing, according to a new analysis by researchers at Portland State University and the U.S. Geological Survey. The study was published in the journal Earth System Science…
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Antarctica is melting and we all need to adapt, a trio of climate analyses show

By Rebecca Hersher   10/27/23  
A trio of new scientific analyses about the loss of ice in Antarctica paint a picture of a continent in trouble. Sea ice is disappearing, gigantic portions of the West Antarctic ice sheet are crumbling…
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Meltdown of West Antarctic Ice Sheet unavoidable, study says

By Gloria Dickie   10/24/23  
The West Antarctic Ice Sheet will continue to melt this century regardless of how much the world slashes planet-warming emissions, research from the British Antarctic Survey has found, locking in further sea level rise over…
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Humans have ‘lost control,’ no amount of emission cut will slow down melting of Antarctica ice shelves: Study

By Moohita Garg   10/24/23  
The coming decades will likely witness a substantial acceleration in the melting of West Antarctica's ice shelves, even if the world cuts down on planet-warming emissions, warns new research.
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West Antarctic ice sheet faces ‘unavoidable’ melting, a warning for sea level rise

By Scott Dance and Chris Mooney   10/23/23  
Accelerating ice losses are all but “unavoidable” this century in vulnerable West Antarctic ice shelves as waters warm around them, according to new research. And the analysis could mean scientists were too conservative in predicting…
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Antarctica has lost 7.5tn tonnes of ice since 1997, scientists find

By Nadeem Badshah   10/12/23  
More than 40% of Antarctica’s ice shelves have shrunk since 1997 with almost half showing “no sign of recovery”, a study has found, linking the change to the climate breakdown.
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A Calamitous Flood Shows the Dangers Lurking in Melting Glaciers

By Hari Kumar and Alex Travelli   10/06/23  
Shortly after midnight on Tuesday, 17,000 feet up in the Himalayas just south of India’s border with China, some slight shift started an avalanche. Snow, ice and boulders slid into a giant glacial lake a…
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Polar Bear Cubs Face Survival Hurdles Due to Climate Change

By Danielle Bochove   10/05/23  
Polar bears may be struggling to nourish their young as melting sea ice forces some populations to fast for longer periods, according to new research.
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Antarctica’s Shrinking Sea Ice Hits a Record Low, Alarming Scientists

By Danielle Bochove   09/26/23  
At its largest expanse this year, sea ice covered less than 17 million square kilometers (6.6 million square miles) of the Antarctic — an area that is 1 million square kilometers (almost 400,000 square miles)…
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The Global Impact of Antarctica’s Climate Crisis: A Test for Humanity

By Ricky Lanusse   09/25/23  
In a world where the consequences of global warming are everywhere, Antarctica, often considered remote, distant, and immutable, is now bearing witness to the undeniable threat of climate change. At alarming record lows of ice…
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Antarctica just hit a record low in sea ice — by a lot

By Kasha Patel   09/25/23  
Sea ice levels around Antarctica just registered a record low — and by a wide margin — as winter comes to a close, according to the National Snow and Ice Data Center (NSIDC). This significant…
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Scientists found the most intense heat wave ever recorded — in Antarctica

By Kasha Patel   09/24/23  
In March 2022, temperatures near the eastern coast of Antarctica spiked at least 70 degrees Fahrenheit (39 degrees Celsius) above normal — making it the most intense recorded heat wave to occur anywhere on Earth,…
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Here’s Life on an Expedition to Track Declining Arctic Ice

By Henry Fountain   09/24/23  
Three years after its marathon voyage across the Central Arctic Ocean frozen in the ice, the German scientific research ship Polarstern has once again reached the North Pole.
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A warmer and wetter Arctic: Insights from a 20-year AIRS record

By Linette Boisvert, Chelsea Parker AND Elina Valkonen   09/22/23  
The Arctic Ocean is covered in sea ice, frozen ocean water, that melts and grows seasonally. Since the sea ice has been monitored by satellites in the 1980's, the sea ice coverage has decreased, most…
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The ‘Forever’ Glaciers of America’s West Aren’t Forever Anymore

By Somini Sengupta   09/12/23  
Once, there were 29. Now at least one is gone, maybe three. Those that remain are almost half the size they used to be.
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Antarctica warming much faster than models predicted in ‘deeply concerning’ sign for sea levels

By Graham Readfearn   09/11/23  
Antarctica is likely warming at almost twice the rate of the rest of the world and faster than climate change models are predicting, with potentially far-reaching implications for global sea level rise, according to a…
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Antarctic Sea Ice Sees Record Low Growth

09/10/23  
Antarctic sea ice reached its lowest maximum extent on record on Sept. 10 at a time when the ice cover should have been growing at a much faster pace during the darkest and coldest months.
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What Arctic ice tells us about climate change

By Sarah Kaplan   08/29/23  
Standing atop of the Greenland ice sheet, it was easy to feel as though the whole world was frozen. The glittering, white expanse stretched as far as I could see in every direction, its windswept…
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How Do Glaciers, Ice Sheets, Sea Ice, and Icebergs Differ?

By Tiffany Means   08/29/23  
At any given time and season, various forms of ice—including glaciers, ice sheets, and sea ice—cover about 10% of Earth's land and water surfaces.1 This is a good thing—as climate change so callously reminds us,…
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Buried under the ice

By Sarah Kaplan, Bonnie Jo Mount and Others   08/25/23  
Greenland had not been kind to Joerg Schaefer. For 21 days, he had endured howling winds and blistering cold. He sampled ice until his fingers went numb and shoveled snow until his shoulders burned. His…
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Baby Penguins Die as Record Low Antarctic Ice Stokes Extinction Risk

By Liza Tetley   08/24/23  
Colonies of emperor penguins failed to breed at a level never seen before in parts of Antarctica, which saw a total sea ice loss in 2022, a new study says. The findings back predictions that…
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For Antarctica’s emperor penguins, ‘there is no time left’

08/24/23  
For Antarctica’s emperor penguins, ‘there is no time left’A new study predicts a bleak future for these iconic birds, which experienced an unprecedented breeding failure last year due to record-low sea ice levels.
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Record glacial flooding swept away two homes in Alaska’s capital

By Ben Brasch   08/06/23  
Unprecedented glacial flooding over the weekend swept away two homes and severely damaged others in Alaska’s capital, officials said Sunday.
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Antarctic Sea Ice Is at a ‘Very Concerning’ Record Low

By Delger Erdenesanaa and Leanne Abraham   08/02/23  
It’s winter in the Southern Hemisphere, when ice typically forms around Antarctica. But this year, that growth has been stunted, hitting a record low by a wide margin.
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Why the climate movement doesn’t talk about polar bears anymore

By Kate Yoder   08/02/23  
At Alaska’s northernmost point, a bowhead whale carcass on the beach attracted a visitor: a massive polar bear.
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Extreme Rain From Atmospheric Rivers and Ice-Heating Micro-Cracks Are Ominous New Threats to the Greenland Ice Sheet

By Bob Berwyn   07/31/23  
At the current level of human-caused global warming, extreme rainfall from atmospheric rivers, as well as an extensive network of previously undetected micro-cracks, could degrade large parts of the Greenland Ice Sheet faster than expected…
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Ancient soil shows part of Greenland was ice-free — and could soon melt again, scientists say

By Sarah Kaplan   07/20/23  
As soon as Andrew Christ peered at the sample inside his microscope, he knew he had found something special. Bits of tiny twigs, moss and leaves were mixed with sediments extracted from deep beneath a…
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Reeling Arctic glaciers are leaving bubbling methane in their wake, scientists warn

By Chris Mooney   07/06/23  
Scientists working in one of the world’s fastest-warming places found that rapidly retreating glaciers are triggering the release into the atmosphere of methane, a potent greenhouse gas that causes global temperatures to rise...
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The last place on Earth any tourist should go

By Sara Clemence   07/03/23  
On the southernmost continent, you can see enormous stretches of wind-sculpted ice that seem carved from marble, and others that are smooth and green as emerald. You can see icebergs, whales, emperor penguins. Visitors have…
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Terrifying New Study Finds That Ocean Currents Will Soon Collapse

By Will Lockett   06/08/23  
Have you seen The Day After Tomorrow? This early naughties disaster movie’s whole plot revolved around climate change turning off global ocean currents and plunging the world into a sudden Ice Age. Many lambasted the…
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This year California’s snowpack reached record-high levels — 40 million acre-feet at its peak in April.

By Sean Greene and Others   06/08/23  
“The ‘big melt’ is on the way.” That was UCLA climate scientist Daniel Swain’s warning to Californians in late March, days before officials announced that this year’s Sierra snowpack contained historic volumes of water.
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Slowdown of the Motion of the Ocean

By Angela Colbert   06/05/23  
Dynamic and powerful, the ocean plays a vital role in Earth’s climate. It helps regulate Earth’s temperature, absorbs carbon dioxide (CO2) from the atmosphere, and fuels the water cycle. One of the most important functions…
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The off-the-charts rise of global sea surface temperature this spring has been eye-popping

By David Wallace-Wells   06/01/23  
There are a lot of unsettling signals coming from the world’s oceans right now. Even for those of us who watch things like temperature anomalies and extreme weather events as likely portents of the climate…
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Slowing ocean current caused by melting Antarctic ice could have drastic climate impact, study says

By Donna Lu   05/25/23  
A major global deep ocean current has slowed down by approximately 30% since the 1990s as a result of melting Antarctic ice, which could have critical consequences for Earth’s climate patterns and sea levels, new…
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U.S. Military Sees Growing Threat in Thawing Permafrost

By Daniel Cusick   05/24/23  
Fox, Alaska, is a tiny town, but on Monday it hosted one of the Pentagon’s senior officials for a unique tour. Deputy Defense Secretary Kathleen Hicks was there to see 360-foot-long tunnel that military engineers…
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A Greenland glacier’s rapid melting may signal faster sea level rise

By Chris Mooney   05/08/23  
Scientists studying one of Greenland’s largest glaciers say it is melting far faster than expected in its most vulnerable region, a worrying sign that glaciers perched in the ocean could contribute to sea level rise…
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Snow melt, predicted flooding to close Yosemite National Park for at least 5 days

By Dan Stillman   04/26/23  
Spring is the “perfect season” to see waterfalls as warmer weather melts winter snow, according to the Yosemite National Park website. This year, however, the threat of flooding from that same melting snow will close…
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A Heat Shield for the Most Important Ice on Earth

By Rachel Riederer   04/25/23  
On a clear morning in late March, in rural Lake Elmo, Minnesota, I followed two materials scientists, Tony Manzara and Doug Johnson, as they tromped down a wintry hill behind Manzara’s house. The temperature was…
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Truly ‘Uncharted Territory.’

By Bill McKibben   04/02/23  
Sadly, Trump's arrest was not the biggest news story of the week. Last Thursday’s big news story was the indictment of Donald Trump, with banner headlines in all the papers that still print on paper.…
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Antarctic ice melt poses grave risk to ocean circulation, new study finds

04/01/23  
Michael Holmes interviews Matthew England, one of the scientists behind a new study showing that melting Antarctic ice poses a grave risk for the global climate.
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Melting Antarctic ice predicted to cause rapid slowdown of deep ocean current by 2050

By Graham Readfearn   03/29/23  
Melting ice around Antarctica will cause a rapid slowdown of a major global deep ocean current by 2050 that could alter the world’s climate for centuries and accelerate sea level rise, according to scientists behind…
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Abyssal ocean overturning slowdown and warming driven by Antarctic meltwater

By Qian Li, Matthew H. England and Others   03/29/23  
The abyssal ocean circulation is a key component of the global meridional overturning circulation, cycling heat, carbon, oxygen and nutrients throughout the world ocean. The strongest historical trend observed in the abyssal ocean is warming…
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Many Antarctic glaciers are never snow-free. See how remarkably different this year is.

By Kasha Patel and Naema Ahmed   03/24/23  
Warmer-than-average temperatures across the continent’s northernmost tip began creeping in during November, lasting through February. By then, several glaciers were nearly or completely free of snow....
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As snow records fall along the eastern Sierra Nevada, fears loom over impending snowmelt

By Louis Sahagun   03/11/23  
Snow began falling early and hard this season at the Mammoth Mountain ski resort, and the record-breaking amounts don’t look like they’ll stop anytime soon.
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As glaciers melt, sudden flood risks threaten 15 million people, study finds

By Kasha Patel   02/07/23  
The Shishpar glacier in northern Pakistan started rapidly thawing during a record heat wave last spring. The melted snow and ice flowed into a nearby ice-dammed lake until water levels grew too high, triggering a…
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An ‘inland tsunami’: 15 million people are at risk from catastrophic glacial lake outbursts, researchers find

By Rachel Ramirez   02/07/23  
Glaciers around the world are melting at an alarming rate, and are leaving massive pools of water in their wake. The meltwater fills the depression left behind by the glacier, forming what’s known as a…
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Half of glaciers will be gone by 2100 even under Paris 1.5C accord, study finds

By Phoebe Weston   01/05/23  
If global heating continues at current rate of 2.7C, losses will be greater with 68% of glaciers disappearingHalf the planet’s glaciers will have melted by 2100 even if humanity sticks to goals set out in…
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‘Zombie’ viruses are thawing in melting permafrost because of climate change

By Michael Birnbaum and Ellen Francis   12/02/22  
The thawing of the permafrost due to climate change may expose a vast store of ancient viruses, according to a team of European researchers, who say they have found 13 previously unknown pathogens that had…
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