Tag Archives: fjords

Understanding the Ocean’s Role in Greenland Glacier Melt

The Greenland Ice Sheet is a 1.7 million-square-kilometer, 2-mile thick layer of ice that covers Greenland. Its fate is inextricably linked to our global climate system.

In the last 40 years, ice loss from the Greenland Ice Sheet increased four-fold contributing to one-quarter of global sea level rise.  Some of the increased melting at the surface of the ice sheet is due to a warmer atmosphere, but the ocean’s role in driving ice loss largely remains a mystery. (more…)

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A Look Back and Ahead at Greenland’s Changing Climate

Over the past two decades, ice loss from the Greenland Ice Sheet increased four-fold contributing to one-quarter of global sea level rise. However, the chain of events and physical processes that contributed to it has remained elusive. One likely trigger for the speed up and retreat of glaciers that contributed to this ice loss is ocean warming.

A review paper by physical oceanographers Fiamma Straneo at Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI) and Patrick Heimbach at MIT published in Nature explains what scientists have learned from their research on and around Greenland over the past 20 years and describes the measurements and technology needed to continue to move the science forward. (more…)

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The Making of Antarctica’s Hidden Fjords

Antarctica’s topography began changing from flat to fjord-filled starting about 34 million years ago, according to a new report from a University of Arizona-led team of geoscientists.

Knowing when Antarctica’s topography started shifting from a flat landscape to one with glaciers, fjords and mountains is important for modeling how the Antarctic ice sheet affects global climate and sea-level rise. (more…)

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International Study Provides More Solid Measure of Shrinking in Polar Ice Sheets

The planet’s two largest ice sheets have been losing ice faster during the past decade, causing widespread confusion and concern. A new international study provides a firmer read on the state of continental ice sheets and how much they are contributing to sea-level rise.

Dozens of climate scientists have reconciled their measurements of ice sheet changes in Antarctica and Greenland during the past two decades. The results, published Nov. 29 in the journal Science, roughly halve the uncertainty and discard some conflicting observations.

“We are just beginning an observational record for ice,” said co-author Ian Joughin, a glaciologist in the University of Washington’s Applied Physics Laboratory who is lead author on an accompanying review article. “This creates a new long-term data set that will increase in importance as new measurements are made.” (more…)

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Genetic Patterns of Deep-Sea Coral Provide Insights into Evolution of Marine Life

Patterns Also Shed Light on How Environmental Disturbances Affect Aquatic Organisms

The ability of deep-sea corals to harbor a broad array of marine life, including commercially important fish species, make these habitat-forming organisms of immediate interest to conservationists, managers, and scientists. Understanding and protecting corals requires knowledge of the historical processes that have shaped their biodiversity and biogeography.

While little is known about these processes, new research described in the journal Molecular Ecology helps elucidate the historical patterns of deep-sea coral migration and gene flow, coincident with oceanic circulation patterns and events. The investigators propose a scenario that could explain the observed evolutionary and present-day patterns in certain coral species. The findings can help scientists determine how climate change and other global processes have affected ocean habitats in the past and how they might do so in the future. (more…)

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New Map Reveals Giant Fjords Beneath East Antarctic Ice Sheet

AUSTIN, Texas — Scientists from the U.S., U.K. and Australia have used ice-penetrating radar to create the first high-resolution topographic map of one of the last uncharted regions of Earth, the Aurora Subglacial Basin, an immense ice-buried lowland in East Antarctica larger than Texas.

The map reveals some of the largest fjords or ice cut channels on Earth, providing important insights into the history of ice in Antarctica. The data will also help computer modelers improve their simulations of the past and future Antarctic ice sheet and its potential impact on global sea level. (more…)

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Study Sheds Light on How Heat is Transported to Greenland Glaciers

Warmer air is only part of the story when it comes to Greenland’s rapidly melting ice sheet. New research by scientists at Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI) highlights the role ocean circulation plays in transporting heat to glaciers.

Greenland’s ice sheet has lost mass at an accelerated rate over the last decade, dumping more ice and fresh water into the ocean. Between 2001 and 2005, Helheim Glacier, a large glacier on Greenland’s southeast coast, retreated 5 miles (8 kilometers) and its flow speed nearly doubled. (more…)

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