Comparing photographs of glaciers from the 1920's to today: Repeat photography is a technique in which a historical photograph and a modern photograph, both having the same field of view, are compared and contrasted to quantitatively and qualitatively determine their similarities and differences. The following sections depict how this technique was used at a number of locations in Alaska... to document and understand changes to glaciers and landscapes as a result of changing climate. [more inside]
The land of fjords, trolls and vikings is a nation of 5 million people, and snow. Photographers like it, as do jumpers and skateboarders. Norway is pretty and has a long coastline due to the lovely crinkly edges, making it nice to sail in. There are islands such as the Lofoten archipelago, long train journeys, steep train journeys, the Northern Lights, ferry journeys that last 134 hours, road tunnels, cathedrals, more Aurora Borealis, mountains, lights, some skiing, sunrises and sunsets, cosy hotels, long walks and whales. And the Aurora. Their tourist board has an unfair advantage. Camping is nice, either with other people or on your own. Svalbard is quite north. Did we mention the scenery and Aurora?
Warm water is eating away at the bases of West Antarctic glaciers in an irreversible runaway process: West Antarctic Glacier Loss Appears Unstoppable [the damn paper (paywalled)] [more inside]
Melting glaciers in northern Italy reveal corpses of WW1 soldiers In the decades that followed the armistice, the world warmed up and the glaciers began to retreat, revealing the debris of the White War. The material that, beginning in the 1990s, began to flood out of the mountains was remarkably well preserved.
"It's like watching 'Manhattan breaking apart in front of your eyes', says filmmaker James Balog. He's describing the largest iceberg calving ever filmed, as featured in his movie, Chasing Ice."
The Mendenhall Glacier in Alaska moves less than a foot a day, but thanks to Extreme Ice Survey you can now watch three years of movement happen in just over a minute complete with a glacier expert explaining what you're seeing. You can also watch giant glacier pieces break into the water and many other non-glacial glacier videos. Finally, some info to make you more of a glacier expert yourself.
Did the Little Ice Age start with a big bang? According to the new study, the Little Ice Age, a period of cooling temperatures that began after the Middle Ages and lasted into the late 19th century was triggered by repeated, explosive volcanism and sustained by a self- perpetuating sea ice-ocean feedback system in the North Atlantic Ocean
In 1887, a glacial geologist named George Frederick Wright was hiking across the Muir Glacier in southeast Alaska when something strange caught his eye. Just as the daylight began to fade, the previously uninterrupted expanse of white snow around him began to develop what appeared to be a five o’clock shadow....
The Guardian recently reported that, according to the 2011 edition of the Times Atlas, a new island called Uunartoq Qeqertaq has emerged off the coast of Greenland due to a 15% loss in glacial cover since 1999. However, glaciologists were quick to point out that this was deeply improbable. Ejo Schrama, a professor at TU Delft whose research interests include satellite mapping of Greenland, has posted a copy of a letter subscribed by several scientists at the Scott Polar Research Insititute expressing displeasure/disgruntlement with the publishers of the atlas (the linked post has been continually updated as events have warranted, so keep an eye out). The publishers have issued a semi-apologetic statement, but why was the mistake made in the first place? ScienceInsider thinks they might have worked out the answer (see the update in the second half of the article).
"Rain is probably the most effective way to ... cause the ice to melt. So this was the first time you could see the surface actually lowering around you." A rare tropical glacier in Indonesia has dropped by a foot in the space of two weeks, as observed by a team sent to collect ice cores to study the effects of global warming. (Glaciers, previously.) [more inside]
Rivers of Ice: Vanishing Glaciers of the Greater Himalaya is an exhibition currently on in New York City, showcasing the work of photographer and mountaineer David Brashears. The Glacier Research Imaging Project is re-imaging historic photos of shrinking glaciers in the Himalaya. [more inside]
In 1987, the Caltech biomagnetist and paleomagnetist Joe Kirschvink gave undergraduate Dawn Sumner a rock sample [from South Australia] to study for her senior thesis. The apparent glacial origin of this rock lead directly to the theory that periodically the Earth has been thoroughly glaciated from the poles to the Equator: the so-called Snowball Earth events. A website dedicated to this theory includes detailed teaching slides, a FAQ, and many other resources on this interesting period in Earth's history.
About 10% of Iceland is covered by glaciers. Thanks to the ongoing catastrophy of global warming, we Icelanders have noticed drastic changes in our poor glaciers. On of the more concerned individuals regarding this is the now retired physician Leifur Jonsson, who is seen in this report by National Geographic. The report does not contain, however, the story about when Leifur almost died on a glacier. In his younger years he got lost in a blizzard, skiied off cliffs and fell 900 feet into the crater of Grímsvötn, an active volcano underneath Icelands largest glacier Vatnajökull. Decades later, two people, also lost in a blizzard, accidentally drove off the same cliffs, as is reported here. The interesting part is that when they were brought to the Emergency Department of Landspitali-University Hospital in Reykjavik, the physician taking care of the was Leifur...
Villagers in the mountains of northern India and Pakistan have been growing their own glaciers for centuries. They're small domesticated glaciers, cultivated by hand, and they provide a reliable source of water for agriculture. Legend has it that they made glaciers to block mountain passes and keep the Mongol Hordes out! More detail in New Scientist - subscription required, but you can probably see this instruction sheet.
The Sphinx Observatory atop the Jungfraujoch in the Swiss alps is one of the most amazing man-made objects I've ever seen. A UNESCO world-heritage site, it holds the distinction of being the highest (in altitude) structure in all of Europe. Approachable by a train that runs inside the mountain (via a tunnel dug between 1896 & 1926 at the cost of a small fortune, not to mention many lives), the Observatory rests atop a glacier which has been hollowed out to feature a year round gallery of never-melting ice scultptures (glacial ice is spectacularly pretty), and an elevator up to the research station.
A New Alpine Melt Theory: "The Alpine glaciers are shrinking, that much we know. But new research suggests that in the time of the Roman Empire, they were smaller than today. And 7,000 years ago they probably weren't around at all." Fascinating report from Der Spiegal about the "Green Alps" theory. This page has a small graphic showing the Alps today and how they might have looked in a warmer period. Another article here. Maybe Otzi forgot to pack his sunscreen?
Chicago is sinking at the rate of about a millimeter a year(or about 4 inches per century), and it's being caused by melting Canadian glaciers that cause the land to shift.
2002 looks like 2nd warmest year on record (since recordkeeping of global temperatures began in 1867, that is) and glaciers are melting faster then ever - 30 years from now, after the great climate catastrophe of '017, when kids ask me what I did to avert it, I'll say - "see, there was this internet blog called metafilter that I'd post bad environmental news to sometimes ...what was the internet? what was a "blog"? why didn't I do more? well, there were these people called "skeptics", and there was this other thing called "the war on terrorism", and it all seemed so distant and speculative and we were all so busy, and it was hard to get around without a car, and the dogs needed to be walked, and I needed to have a cavity filled, and there was all that laundry, and my big toe hurt, and, and..."
Shocking photos which show just how much glaciers have melted in the last century. Now that the North Pole is a swimming pool, the Ross Ice Shelf has, as the Onion put it, embarked on a world tour, and the worst flooding in 800 years is hitting Eastern Europe, aren't we maybe a little bit worried about climate change... just a little, maybe? What freak weather phenomenon is creeping you out these days?