“The Arctic ice is back to normal.” Yeah, right.

by Gareth on April 25, 2008


This New Scientist video includes some rather spectacular images of a rapidly draining meltwater lake on the surface of the Greenland ice sheet. The three kilometre wide lake drained down through 1 km of ice in an hour and a half, at a rate similar to that of the water flowing over the Niagara Falls. Full story here, and more detail from NASA here. Meanwhile, RealClimate covers the factors driving the acceleration of Greenland’s outlet glaciers, the principle mechanism for getting large volumes of ice into the ocean. There’s some interesting stuff in the comments, too, particularly from a scientist (Tad Pfeiffer) working on establishing an upper limit to the contribution to global sea level rise likely from Greenland’s glaciers. Nature also has a very nice overview article on the state of research on the GIS, but unfortunately it’s hidden away behind a paywall.

Offshore in the high Canadian Arctic, Canadian Rangers have discovered large cracks are appearing in the Ward Hunt ice shelf, a large chunk of very old and thick ice on the northern coast of Ellesmere Island. The Arctic sea ice has now begun its spring melt back, and the National Snow & Ice Data Centre has posted a page to monitor this summer’s events. The time series graph of ice extent (here) compares current ice to last year’s record and the 79-2000 average. You can monitor ice area (a slightly different metric) at Cryosphere Today (here).

Down South, more results from the Andrill Project were presented at last week’s European Geophysical Union conference. Researchers now have a climate history for the continent stretching back 17 million years, and there are plans to drill a new core (starting in 2012) to take that back to 40 million years, when the continent started iceing up. Grab the Nature article before it disappears behind a paywall.

Tasman.jpgThis is the Tasman Glacier, near Mt Cook, from the lookout on the lateral moraine a couple of months ago (click for a larger version: pic ©GR). New fieldwork shows that the lake is now 7 km long, 2 km wide and – amazingly – 245 m deep. The results confirm that the presence of the lake effectively dooms the glacier to disappear – within 20 years, according to the research team from Massey University. Herald story here.

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