Our Planet:Climate Change and the Cryosphere, May 2007

Most of the Northern Hemisphere Permafrost Remains under Climate Change
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Most Americans have never seen a glacier, and most would say that glaciers are rare features found only in inaccessible, isolated wilderness mountains. Are they really so rare? Or are they really potentially important sources of water supply? The warming climate has dramatically reduced the size of 39 glaciers in Montana since , some by as much as 85 percent, according to data released by the U.

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Geological Survey and Portland State University. Much of the coast from Maine to Virginia is more likely to change than to simply drown in response to rising seas during the next 70 years or so, according to a new study led by the U. Geological Survey.

Cryospheric Sciences | climate change

The U. Geological Survey and Oregon State University released a report this week examining Pacific Northwest tidal wetland vulnerability to sea level rise. Scientists found that, while vulnerability varies from marsh to marsh, most wetlands would likely be resilient to rising sea levels over the next years. Frozen bodies of ice cover nearly 10 percent of the state of Alaska, but the influence of glaciers on the environment, tourism, fisheries, hydropower, and other important Alaska resources is rarely discussed. More than acres of uplands in and near Acadia National Park will likely be flooded by the ocean if sea level rises 2 feet during this century, leaving 75 percent of the saltwater marshes along this part of central Maine's rugged coast with very little upland area to migrate into, according to a new U.

Geological Survey study and maps.

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Rates of sea level rise are increasing three-to-four times faster along portions of the U. Atlantic Coast than globally, according to a new U. Geological Survey report published in Nature Climate Change. The Earth is a watery place. But just how much water exists on, in, and above our planet?

About 71 percent of the Earth's surface is water-covered, and the oceans hold about The simulation below reflects the predicted exponential rise in atmospheric CO2 concentrations, a 2xCO2 "global warming" scenario, with a concurrent warming of degrees centigrade degrees Fahrenheit by the year In addition it assumes that precipitation, primarily in the form of rain, will increase over the same time period about 10 percent based on the. The second repeat photograph documents significant changes that have occurred during the 63 years between photographs A and C, and during the 54 years between photographs B and C.

The big melt: Earth’s ice sheets are under attack

Muir Glacier has retreated out of the field of view and is now more than 7 kilometers northwest. Riggs Glacier has retreated as much as meters and thinned more than meters. Note the dense. This August photo further documents the significant changes that have occurred during the 63 years between photographs A and C, and during the 54 years between photographs B and C.

Muir Glacier has retreated out of the field of view and is now nearly 5 miles to the northwest. Riggs Glacier has retreated as much as ft and thinned by more than feet. Note the. Glacier retreat boundaries courtesy of the U. Search Search. Climate and Land Use Change. About 2. Year Select Year Apply Filter. What is the difference between global warming and climate change?

Although people tend to use these terms interchangeably, global warming is just one aspect of climate change. Which mountain in the conterminous U.

Mount Rainier, Washington, at 14, feet 4, meters , the highest peak in the Cascade Range, is a dormant volcano whose glacier ice cover exceeds that of any other mountain in the conterminous United States. Mount Rainier has approximately 26 glaciers.

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It contains more than five times the glacier area of all the other Cascade volcanoes How old is glacier ice? The age of the oldest glacier ice in Antarctica may approach 1,, years old The age of the oldest glacier ice in Greenland is more than , years old The age of the oldest Alaskan glacier ice ever recovered from a basin between Mt. Bona and Mt. Churchill is about 30, years old.

Glacier flow moves newly formed ice through the entire Where are glaciers found in continental North America? Glaciers exist in both the United States and Canada. Most U. Glaciers exist on every continent except Australia. How would sea level change if glaciers melted?

What are the impacts of glacier loss, other than losing an aesthetic landscape feature? Glaciers act as reservoirs of water that persist through summer. Continual melt from glaciers contributes water to the ecosystem throughout dry months, creating perennial stream habitat and a water source for plants and animals.

The cold runoff from glaciers also affects downstream water temperatures. Many aquatic species in mountainous What is a glacier? A glacier is a large, perennial accumulation of crystalline ice, snow, rock, sediment, and often liquid water that originates on land and moves down slope under the influence of its own weight and gravity.

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Typically, glaciers exist and may even form in areas where: mean annual temperatures are close to the freezing point winter precipitation Permafrost extent is projected to decrease substantially during the 21 st Century. This would release large amounts of methane in the atmosphere, which is a much more powerful greenhouse gas than carbon dioxide. Mean precipitation and daily precipitation extremes will increase in a warming Arctic. Global sea level will continue to rise due to melting from ice sheets and glaciers, ocean thermal expansion, and changes in terrestrial storage. However, uncertainties remain regarding the magnitude of the changes, which is linked to the different emission scenarios and the type of model used.

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A potential economic benefit to the loss of Arctic sea ice, especially in summer, is the creation of new shipping routes and access to untapped oil and gas resources. However, besides this short-term positive aspect of Arctic changes, many socio-economic and environmental drawbacks exist.

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The Furtwangler Glacier is located near the summit of 5, meter-tall 19,foot-tall Mt. The water contained in the stupa should therefore also be released during the right time of the year. Satellite altimetry height measurements shows that ice is rapidly thinning in some parts of Greenland left and Antarctica right. Disko Bay, Greenland, 7 June Half of the ice in the Swiss Alps has melted in the past century, enough to fill all the lakes in Switzerland. Eventually, the snowfields thickened and turned into a series of ice caps. Trapped eons ago in snowstorms, bubbles of fossil air float to the surface of the melt water.

The number of hazards has been rising due to Arctic changes, including coastal flooding and erosion, damage to buildings, risks of avalanches and floods from rapid Arctic glacier melting, wildfires, and landslides related to thawing permafrost. Furthermore, Arctic changes especially sea-ice loss may also impact the climate at mid-latitudes, although many uncertainties exist regarding these possible links see Cohen et al. Mitigating climate change by decreasing greenhouse gas emissions.

This would also reduce the associated changes identified on our Image of the Week. However, it is recognized that even if we implement the Paris Agreement, the Arctic environment of would be substantially different than that of today.

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Advancing our understanding of Arctic changes through international collaboration, exchange of knowledge between scientists and the general public, and engagement with stakeholders. He works on the development of processed-based sea-ice metrics in order to improve the evaluation of global climate models GCMs. Sea ice is an extremely sensitive indicator of climate change.

However, the story has not been mirrored at the other pole. As shown in our image of the week blue line in Fig.


The small increasing trend in Antarctic sea-ice extent is the sum of opposing regional trends click here for definitions of area, concentration and extent. Sea ice in the Weddell and Ross seas has expanded whereas in the Amundsen and Bellingshausen A-B seas the sea-ice cover has diminished Holland The size of these trends varies with the seasons Fig. The differences in trends between seasons suggests interactions with atmosphere and ocean feedbacks that amplify in the spring and dampen in the autumn changes in the ice cover, creating this seasonality.

Some of this variability can be explained by changes in the winds Holland and Kwok, Maximum trends are seen in summer. There is no clear consensus on this. We only have a time series of Antarctic sea ice extent from the start of satellite observations. For example, it could be that the ice is becoming thinner although the sea-ice area has increased. Currently, global climate models are poor at reproducing the observed Antarctic sea ice changes Turner et al.

Models simulate a decrease in the overall sea ice extent, instead of the observed increase. They also fail to reproduce the correct spatial variations, as shown in Fig. However, there are some suggestions as to processes that could explain some of the observed Antarctic sea ice variability. The largely fall into two main categories: natural variability and anthropogenic changes. Natural variability refers to the repeating oscillations and patterns we see in the climate system.

The SAM has been in a mostly positive phase since the mids, so is believed may have something to do with some of the small increase in sea ice extent we have seen. However, variability on longer time scales decades or longer could also explain some of the small increase, but this is tricky to assess without a longer observational time series. The main two human-induced changes on the Antarctic climate system are the ozone hole and increased melting of the Antarctic ice sheet.