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

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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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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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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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

The Long Decline of Arctic Sea Ice

01/06/21  
Throughout 2020, the Arctic Ocean and surrounding seas endured several notable weather and climate events. In spring, a persistent heatwave over Siberia provoked the rapid melting of sea ice in the East Siberian and Laptev…
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Ho, ho, ho-hum December

01/05/21  
The Arctic climate was extraordinary in 2020, but the year ended with a less spectacular December. Ice growth was faster than average throughout the month, but extent at month’s end remained among the lowest in…
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NASA Finds What a Glacier’s Slope Reveals About Greenland Ice Sheet Thinning

By Lara Streiff   12/21/20  
As glaciers flow outward from the Greenland Ice Sheet, what lies beneath them offers clues to their role in future ice thinning and sea-level rise contribution.
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The Big Thaw

By Daniel Glick   12/16/20  
So far, the results have been positively chilling. When President Taft created Glacier National Park in 1910, it was home to an estimated 150 glaciers. Since then the number has decreased to fewer than 30,…
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Shift to a Not-So-Frozen North Is Well Underway, Scientists Warn

By Henry Fountain   12/08/20  
“There is no reason to think that in 30 years much of anything will be as it is today,” one of the editors of a new report on the Arctic climate said.
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Sailing to the Antarctic Peninsula

By Peter Sinclair   11/25/20  
An iceberg roughly the size of Delaware that is headed toward the sub-Antarctic island of South Georgia has experts worried about the possibility of it blocking wildlife from food sources and threatening the island’s ecosystem.
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Greenland’s ice sheet could melt at a rate not seen in the last 130,000 years

By Jonathan Bamber   11/20/20  
Greenland is the largest island in the world and on it rests the largest ice mass in the Northern Hemisphere. If all that ice melted, the sea would rise by more than 7 metres.
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Why are glaciers and sea ice melting?

By Lorin Hancock   11/10/20  
Glaciers around the world can range from ice that is several hundred to several thousand years old and provide a scientific record of how climate has changed over time. Through their study, we gain valuable information…
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Greenland’s Retreating Glaciers Could Impact Local Ecology

10/27/20  
A new study of Greenland's shrinking ice sheet reveals that many of the island's glaciers are not only retreating, but are also undergoing other physical changes. Some of those changes are causing the rerouting of…
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Alarm as Arctic sea ice not yet freezing at latest date on record

By Jonathan Watts   10/26/20  
Delayed freeze in Laptev Sea could have knock-on effects across polar region, scientists say
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10 million snowblowers? Last-ditch ideas to save the Arctic ice

By Nils Adler   10/20/20  
Some of the solutions sound fantastical – but their proponents argue that there are precious few other options
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Big oil’s answer to melting Arctic: cooling the ground so it can keep drilling

By Nat Herz   10/19/20  
“It’s like God’s country,” said George Ahmaogak Sr, a former mayor of the North Slope borough, who has built three subsistence fishing cabins not far from the lake. “I’ve lived there, I’ve seen it and…
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‘Demented’: Oil Giant Refreezing Rapidly Melting Permafrost So It Can Keep Climate -Killing Arctic Drilling Alive

By Jon Queally   10/19/20  
It wanted to pump 160,000 more barrels of oil each day from a new project on Alaska's North Slope. But the fossil fuels it and others produce are leading to global heating, and the Arctic is melting.…
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Alaska’s new climate threat: tsunamis linked to melting permafrost

By Erin McKittrick   10/18/20  
In Alaska and other high, cold places around the world, new research shows that mountains are collapsing as the permafrost that holds them together melts, threatening tsunamis if they fall into the sea.
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Antarctica could melt ‘irreversibly’ due to climate change, study warns

By Brandon Specktor   09/29/20  
In the study, PIK researchers ran computer simulations to model how Antarctica will look thousands of years from now, depending on how high average global temperatures rise in response to modern greenhouse gas emissions.
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2020 Arctic Sea Ice Minimum at Second Lowest on Record

By Kate Ramsayer   09/21/20  
This year’s Arctic sea ice cover shrank to the second lowest extent since modern record-keeping began in the late 1970s. An analysis of satellite data by NASA and the National Snow and Ice Data Center…
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Studying Greenland’s Ice to Understand Climate Change

By Alan Taylor   09/19/20  
Earlier this year, Lucas Jackson, a photographer with Reuters, joined a team of scientists affiliated with a NASA project named Oceans Melting Greenland (OMG) and traveled with it to the Greenland ice sheet and fjords.…
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Two major Antarctic glaciers are tearing loose from their restraints, scientists say

By Chris Mooney   09/14/20  
Two Antarctic glaciers that have long kept scientists awake at night are breaking free from the restraints that have hemmed them in, increasing the threat of large-scale sea-level rise.
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Melting Glaciers Are Filling Unstable Lakes. And They’re Growing.

By Katherine Kornei   09/02/20  
Nearly freezing and often an otherworldly shade of blue, glacial lakes form as glaciers melt and retreat. These lakes are a source of drinking and irrigation water for many communities. But they can turn deadly…
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Greenland Ice Sheet Reached Tipping Point 20 Years Ago, New Study Finds

By Grace Palmer   09/02/20  
At the turn of the 21st century, unbeknownst to the world, the Greenland ice sheet likely entered a state of sustained mass loss that will persist for the foreseeable future, according to a new study.…
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Koni Steffen’s Moving Message from Greenland

By John Englander   08/17/20  
Some of you likely heard about Konrad “Koni” Steffen’s tragic death at his research station on the Greenland Ice Sheet last week. It received global recognition with full feature obituaries including the New York Times…
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Canada’s Last Fully Intact Arctic Ice Shelf Collapses

By Moira Warburton   08/07/20  
The Arctic has been warming at twice the global rate for the past 30 years.
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Stunning Forecast: A Century of Ice Loss for Nearly 100,000 Glaciers

By Pat Brennan   08/04/20  
The ice in one of the world’s highest concentrations of non-polar glaciers could see significant melting before the end of the century, potentially affecting sea levels around the globe, according to a new computer model…
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Climate change hits back, Svalbard coal mine flooded by melting glacier

By Thomas Nilsen   07/30/20  
Mine 7 is located some 15 kilometers southeast of Longyearbyen and is the only remaining Norwegian operated coal mine on the Arctic archipelago. The mine supplies the local coal-power plant with about 30,000 tons of…
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Wildfires Scorch The Arctic As Siberian Heatwave Rages

07/25/20  
Exceptionally hot temperatures are melting sea ice off Russia's Arctic coast and fueling massive fires.
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Antarctic melting could bring a much hotter future

By Tim Radford   06/23/20  
Antarctic melting can force sea ice retreat of 50 metres daily. CO2 levels are at their highest for 23 million years. Learn from the past. The post Antarctic melting could bring a much hotter future…
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The race to preserve Earth’s historical climate record—its ice

by Katherine Bourzac   06/16/20  
As climate change threatens Earth's glaciers and ice sheets, climatologists and chemists are banking ice core samples for the future....
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How Simple Math Can Help Predict the Melting of Sea Ice

By Anurag Papolu   06/14/20  
To better predict climate change, scientists need accurate models which predict the behavior of many natural processes. One of these is the melting of Arctic sea ice, which requires expensive and difficult data collection in…
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Climate Change Could Mean More Of Antarctica Turning Green With Algae

By Hilary Hanson   05/23/20  
Snow algae is already a part of summer on the Antarctic Peninsula. A warming planet may mean a lot more of it. ...
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Climate change is turning parts of Antarctica green, say scientists

By Jonathan Watts   05/20/20  
Researchers map ‘beginning of new ecosystem’ as algae bloom across surface of melting snow
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‘It Could Happen Anytime’: Scientists Warn of Alaska Tsunami Threat

By Henry Fountain   05/14/20  
A retreating glacier is increasing the risk of a catastrophic landslide and tsunami within a few decades, researchers say.
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Record Shrinking of Greenland’s Ice Sheet Raises Sea Levels

By Deutsche Welle   04/17/20  
Greenland's kilometers-long ice sheet underwent near-record imbalance last year, scientists have reported on Wednesday.The ice sheet suffered a net loss of 600 billion tons, which was...
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Lost Viking ‘highway’ revealed by melting ice

By Erin Blakemore   04/16/20  
It started with an 1,800-year-old shirt. Archaeologist Lars Holger Pilø had watched his colleagues discover the ancient wool tunic that had emerged from a melting ice patch on Lomseggen, a mountain in southern Norway. Now…
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Clear Skies Drove the Biggest-Ever Drop in Greenland’s Ice Sheet

By Laura Millan Lombrana   04/15/20  
New research suggests that glacier models could be underestimating future melting by half.
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Arctic Warming Endangers Ringed Seals

By Yale Climate Connections   04/10/20  
Ringed seals spend most of the year hidden in icy Arctic waters, breathing through holes they create in the thick sea ice.But when seal pups are...
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Antarctica Experiences First Known Heat Wave

By Richard Connor   03/31/20  
By Richard ConnorScientists have recorded Antarctica's first documented heat wave, warning that animal and plant life on the isolated continent could be drastically affected by climate...
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Huge East Antarctic Glacier Especially Susceptible to Climate Impacts

03/25/20  
if (typeof captions == 'undefined'){ var captions = []; } captions.push("This photograph shows ripples in the surface of Denman Glacier in East Antarctica that throw shadows against the ice. The glacier is melting at a…
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Scientists just discovered a massive new vulnerability in the Antarctic ice sheet

By Chris Mooney   03/23/20  
Scientists have found a new point of major vulnerability in the Antarctic ice sheet, in a region that already appears to be changing as the climate warms and has the potential to raise sea levels…
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GRACE, GRACE-FO Satellite Data Track Ice Loss at the Poles

03/18/20  
During the exceptionally warm Arctic summer of 2019, Greenland lost 600 billion tons of ice—enough to raise global sea levels by nearly a tenth of an inch (2.2 millimeters) in just two months, a new…
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Increasingly Mobile Sea Ice Means Arctic Neighbors May Pollute Each Others’ Waters

By Earth Institute   03/18/20  
The movement of sea ice between Arctic countries is expected to significantly increase this century, raising the risk of more widely transporting pollutants like microplastics and oil, according to new research. ...
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Greenland, Antarctica Melting Six Times Faster Than in the 1990s

03/16/20  
if (typeof captions == 'undefined'){ var captions = []; } captions.push("An aerial view of the icebergs near Kulusuk Island, off the southeastern coastline of Greenland, a region that is exhibiting an accelerated rate of ice…
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7 Reasons Why Arctic Sea Ice Matters

By Russell McLendon   02/25/20  
The Arctic hasn't been itself lately. Temperatures there are rising at twice the global rate, sparking an array of changes unlike anything seen in recorded history. One of the most striking examples is the region's…
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NASA Reveals Startling Images From Antarctica’s ‘Hottest Days On Record’

By Hilary Hanson   02/22/20  
Aerial views of Antarctica's Eagle Island show the dramatic melting that took place during a major February heatwave. ...
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Temperature in Antarctica soars to near 70 degrees, appearing to topple continental record set days earlier

By Andrew Freedman   02/14/20  
If certified, the reading would be the hottest temperature recorded on the frigid continent.
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Massive Iceberg 5 Times Larger Than Manhattan Shatters Into Pieces – Satellite Video

By ESA - European Space Agency   02/13/20  
The Pine Island Glacier recently spawned an iceberg over 300 sq km that very quickly shattered into pieces. This almost cloud-free image, captured on February 11, 2020, by the Copernicus Sentinel-2 mission, shows the freshly…
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Antarctica melting: Climate change and the journey to the ‘doomsday glacier’

By Justin Rowlatt   01/28/20  
Glaciologists have described Thwaites as the "most important" glacier in the world, the "riskiest" glacier, even the "doomsday" glacier.
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200 Years After Antarctica’s Discovery, It’s Time for Stronger Marine Conservation

By Andrea Kavanagh   01/27/20  
Explorers and advocates, both past and present, highlight the need for new protected areas in Southern Ocean.
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