Half of World Heritage Glacier Sites May Be Gone by 2100

Click to enlargeJungfrauMartin Price

❝ Glaciers are set to disappear completely from almost half of World Heritage sites if business-as-usual emissions continue, according to the first-ever global study of World Heritage glaciers.

The sites are home to some of the world’s most iconic glaciers, such as Grosser Aletschgletscher in the Swiss Alps, Khumbu Glacier in the Himalayas, and Greenland’s Jakobshavn Isbrae…

❝ The study in the AGU journal Earth’s Future…combines data from a global glacier inventory, a review of existing literature and sophisticated computer modeling to analyze the current state of World Heritage glaciers, their recent evolution, and their projected mass change over the 21st century.

I spent some truly enjoyable time camped on the climbing approaches to the Jungfrau decades ago. Now, I wish I’d kept the photos I took. I never thought I’d be witnessing the early stages of the death of so much natural beauty at the hands of corporate carbon profiteers and their political pimps.

Yukon glaciers thinning fast — maybe forever!

Glaciologist Gwenn Flowers on Kaskawulsh glacierSusan Ormiston/CBC

❝ “We as Canadians are stewards of about a third of the world’s mountain glaciers and ice caps, so this is our responsibility,” Gwenn Flowers says.

The dramatic changes to the glaciers in the Yukon are an early warning of what climate change could mean for the rest of the planet, researchers say. And Flowers sees lots of reason for concern reflected in the state of the ice…

❝ Her tiny team of three is mapping the Kaskawulsh glacier — 70 kilometres long and five kilometres wide — as it struggles under the double threat of a warming climate and diminishing snow cover.

The research boils down to an inescapable conclusion: The glacier can’t compensate for the volume it’s losing now each year.

The shame is that those who have caused – and continue to cause – climate change take little or no responsibility for the results of their greed. Neither they nor the political hacks prancing through government halls are willing to confront or respond to what we learn from science and history.

Glacier-fed rivers are disappearing – of course.

Click to enlargeUniversity of Alberta

❝ A call for policy-makers to begin planning for the inevitable disappearance of glacier-fed rivers is one of the highlights of a no-holds-barred, University of Alberta-led accounting of the health of Canada’s mountains.

The 2018 State of the Mountains Report is a collection of expert summaries written to raise awareness about the ways a changing climate is transforming the alpine…

Mountains are sentinels for larger global change,” said U of A mountain historian Zac Robinson. “The change is alarming, but I’m optimistic because mountains are adored by people everywhere. That’s hopeful because people are paying attention to these types of things.”

Read it and weep for the mountains and rivers, my friends. Many of the most important moments in my life were spent within these landscapes and similar – around the globe. Replacements aren’t the same.

Meltdown – Rocky Mountain glaciers shrinking

Tracking high-elevation snowfallJohn Marr/University of Colorado

Colorado scientists using ground-penetrating radar have found climate change is shrinking glaciers and other icy terrain in the Rocky Mountains — raising concerns about water supplies.

The Arikaree Glacier — likely more than 1,000 years old — has been thinning by about 1 meter a year over the past 15 years and will disappear completely in 25 years…

Their peer-reviewed research…found that rock glaciers and other ice that holds water west of Boulder also will vanish. The Arikaree Glacier, which feeds North Boulder Creek, had held steady from 1965 through 1997.

❝”What ice provides is insurance so that, when we have bad years, we can get more contribution from glaciers and permafrost,” said CU hydrologist Mark Williams of the Institute of Arctic and Alpine Research, lead author of the study…

He compares melting ice to pulling from a bank account, saying more water may flow for now but that reserves needed to endure droughts won’t be there. Mountains that held snow and ice for hundreds of thousands of years, with fluctuations, rapidly are losing it…

Glacier National Park is not going to have glaciers in another couple decades. People are going to be upset about that. We’re in a loop we cannot get out of…”

The melting of glaciers and other ice in Colorado mountains jibes with a worldwide trend that scientists and governments have linked to climate change. The shrinking of Earth’s frozen “cryosphere” has been documented across Arctic sea ice, tundra and other areas that traditionally hold packed snow.

RTFA for more details about cause and effect. If you stay up-to-date you’re not surprised. You ain’t happy either. The time for initiating long term solutions continues to pass us by. Short-term solutions don’t exist.

Between ignorant politicians, cowardly politicians and the truly foolish claques in the body politic the United States continues to abdicate leadership to the whole world. The band of creepy capitalists profiting from fossil fuels continues to diminish; but, not their political power. They dedicate billions to extending ignorance as well as more usual methods employed in Washington, DC. After all, an ignorant electorate is a force unlikely to demand qualitative change to our economy.

Fresh water and glacial melt is pouring into the Gulf of Alaska

Melting directly into the sea
Click to enlargePhoto courtesy Oregon State University

Incessant mountain rain, snow and melting glaciers in a comparatively small region of land that hugs the southern Alaska coast and empties fresh water into the Gulf of Alaska would create the sixth largest coastal river in the world if it emerged as a single stream, a recent study shows.

Since it’s broken into literally thousands of small drainages pouring off mountains that rise quickly from sea level over a short distance, the totality of this runoff has received less attention, scientists say. But research that’s more precise than ever before is making clear the magnitude and importance of the runoff, which can affect everything from marine life to global sea level.

The collective fresh water discharge of this region is more than four times greater than the mighty Yukon River of Alaska and Canada, and half again as much as the Mississippi River, which drains all or part of 31 states and a land mass more than six times as large…

This is one of the first studies to accurately document the amount of water being contributed by melting glaciers, which add about 57 cubic kilometers of water a year to the estimated 792 cubic kilometers produced by annual precipitation in this region. The combination of glacial melt and precipitation produce an amount of water that’s larger than many of the world’s great rivers…

The data were acquired as an average of precipitation, glacial melting and runoff over a six-year period, from 2003 to 2009. Knocked down in many places by steep mountains, the extraordinary precipitation that sets the stage for this runoff averages about 6 feet per year for the entire area, Hill said, and more than 30 feet in some areas.

The study does not predict future trends in runoff, Hill said. Global warming is expected in the future, but precipitation predictions are more variable. Glacial melt is also a variable. A warmer climate would at first be expected to speed the retreat of existing glaciers, but the amount of water produced at some point may decrease as the glaciers dwindle or disappear.

Not so incidentally, this last paragraph is why I withhold judgement on what continued climate change will bring to our high desert region. I’m aware of a majority of climatologists predicting massive drought — and a smaller number whose models expect moderate increases in annual rainfall.

Of course, I hope for the latter. 🙂

As for the future of glaciers in general? I think we’re screwed.

The found art that is photography – melting icebergs by Souders

The setting midnight sun lights a massive arched iceberg from the Ilulissat Kangerlua Glacier

“Several of the shots remind me that I’m lucky to be alive. There was a massive arched iceberg in Greenland that captivated me,” says Paul. “The midnight sun lit the arch with this amazing orange light, but the only way to photograph it was to motor inside it. The berg was shaped like an enormous hollow molar, and I sucked up my courage to dash in with my boat, shooting the scene as fast as I could. The light was fading fast and I was pretty worried that the whole thing could collapse, roll over, dump me in the ocean. I kept listening for the thunderclap that would mean the end for me. A tour boat from the nearby village motored past and watched in disbelief. I could hear the guide telling them how very, very dangerous this was. When I was done, I yelled across to them, “Please don’t tell my mom!

While I’ve never cared to work at being a professional photographer, I’ve known a few. Specialists in everything from food to motorsports. Truly tempting way to earn a living recording truth, beauty – or seemingly unimportant moments.

My own work – especially outdoors – is with nature as found art. I’m only a recordkeeper. I can tweak and tune a bit and prefer to do so with rather elemental and simple software. As I did in a darkroom years ago.

Talent like Paul Souder’s deserves a special level of recognition.

The first map that tracks the motion of Antarctica’s glaciers

Click to enlarge

Scientists have produced what they say is the first complete map of how the ice moves across Antarctica.
Built from images acquired by radar satellites, the visualisation details all the great glaciers and the smaller ice streams that feed them…

It should aid the understanding of how the White Continent might evolve in the warmer world being forecast by climatologists.

This is like seeing a map of all the oceans’ currents for the first time. It’s a game changer for glaciology,” said lead author Dr Eric Rignot. “We are seeing amazing flows from the heart of the continent that had never been described before”…

The map incorporates billions of radar data points collected between 1996 and 2009 by satellites belonging to Europe, Canada and Japan.

Ice drains from the interior via huge glaciers that calve icebergs into the sea…Ice velocities on the new map range from just few cm/year near places where the ice divides into different paths, to km/year on fast-moving glaciers and the ice shelves that float out from the edges of the continent.

RTFA for history and details. Interesting stuff.

Mass loss from glaciers overestimated before satellites used – The rate of melting continues to accelerate!

The melting of glaciers is well documented, but when looking at the rate at which they have been retreating, a team of international researchers steps back and says not so fast.

Previous studies have largely overestimated mass loss from Alaskan glaciers over the past 40-plus years, according to Erik Schiefer, a Northern Arizona University geographer…

The research team, led by Étienne Berthier…says that glacier melt in Alaska between 1962 and 2006 contributed about one-third less to sea-level rise than previously estimated…

Schiefer said the team plans to use the same methodologies from the Alaskan study in other glacial regions to determine if further recalibrations of ice melt are in order. These techniques use satellite imagery that spans vast areas of ice cover.

Previous methods estimated melt for a smaller subset of individual glaciers. The most comprehensive technique previously available used planes that flew along the centerlines of selected glaciers to measure ice surface elevations. These elevations were then compared to those mapped in the 1950s and 1960s. From this, researchers inferred elevation changes and then extrapolated this to other glaciers.

Two factors led to the original overestimation of ice loss with this method, Schiefer said. One is the impact of thick deposits of rock debris that offer protection from solar radiation and, thus, melting. The other was not accounting for the thinner ice along the edges of glaciers that also resulted in less ice melt.

Schiefer and his colleagues used data from the SPOT 5 French satellite and the NASA/Japanese ASTER satellite and converted the optical imagery to elevation information. They then compared this information to the topographical series maps of glacial elevations dating back to the 1950s.

While the team determined a lower rate of glacial melt during a greater than 40-year span, Schiefer said other studies have demonstrated the rate of ice loss has more than doubled in just the last two decades.

The geographers expect that rate of acceleration to continue. But, like any solid science, establishing greater baseline accuracy always aids in understanding results, projections, predictions.