Sunday, July 31, 2005

Glacier Melting Now

Glaciers, to repeat again, are melting now. These massive volumes of fresh water are pouring into the oceans like there's no tomorrow. This leads to certain oceanic changes -- less salty, cooler, and higher sea levels. But these three quantitative changes are not the whole story. They will in turn also affect the global climate significantly, especially around the Atlantic as this melting leads to large scale changes in the ocean currents that redistribute heat and moisture between the southern and northern hemispheres.

Thus our global climate system is scheduled to enter a period of chaotic change, not in some far off future, and not only in your lifetime. It has already been underway. Consider this week's report:

"After 40 years of stability, the Kangerdlugssuaq Glacier in southeastern Greenland has become one of the world's fastest-melting glaciers, says glaciologist Gordon Hamilton from the University of Maine.

Hamilton took the first-ever direct measurements on the surface of Kangerdlugssuaq Glacier Jul. 18 and discovered it is now moving at an unglacial 38 metres per day, or 14 kilometres per year. That is nearly three times faster than it was in 2002 when a NASA plane flew over to take measurements.

'We were just floored by the change in speed,' Hamilton told IPS from on board the Greenpeace ship Arctic Sunrise off the coast of Greenland.

The Kangerdlugssuaq Glacier had also unexpectedly retreated five kilometres since 2002 after maintaining a stable position for the past 40 years.

No one has observed anything like these changes before, he said."

{story continues at link above}

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See also: "The Day Before Tomorrow" at

and "Crazy Weather for Busy Folks" at


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