A bitterly cold Alaskan summer has had surprising results. For the first time in the area's recorded history, area glaciers have begun to expand, rather than shrink. Summer temperatures, which were some 3 degrees below average, allowed record levels of winter snow to remain much longer, leading to the increase in glacial mass.
"In mid-June, I was surprised to see snow still at sea level in Prince William Sound", said glaciologist Bruce Molnia. "In general, the weather this summer was the worst I have seen in at least 20 years".
"On the Juneau Icefield, there was still 20 feet of new snow on the surface [in] late July. At Bering Glacier, a landslide I am studying [did] not become snow free until early August."
Molnia, who works for the US Geological Survey, said it's been a "long time" since area glaciers have seen a positive mass balance -- an increase in the total amount of ice they contain.
Since 1946, the USGS has maintained a research project measuring the state of Alaskan glaciers. This year saw records broken for most snow buildup. It was also the first time since any records began being that the glaciers did not shrink during the summer months.
Those records date from the mid 1700s, when the region was first visited by Russian explorers. Molnia estimates that Alaskan glaciers have lost about 15% of their total area since that time -- an area the size of Connecticut.
One of the largest areas of shrinkage has been at the national park of Glacier Bay. When Alexei Ilich Chirikof first arrived in 1741, the bay didn't exist at all -- only a solid wall of ice. From that time until the early 1900s, the ice retreated some 50 miles, to form the bay and surrounding area.
Accordingly to Molnia, a difference of just 3 or 4 degrees is enough to shift the mass balance of glaciers from rapid shrinkage to rapid growth. From the 1600s to the 1900s, that’s just the amount of warming that was seen, as the planet exited the Little Ice Age.
Molnia says one cold summer doesn't mean the start of a new climatic trend. At least years like this, however, might mark the beginning of another Little Ice Age.
As DailyTech reported earlier, Arctic sea ice this year has also increased substantially from its low in 2007.
quote: New Orleans isn't back to normal, because it will never be the same. I was there everyday for two years after Katrina. It is coming back, not the same, but better - not because of, but more in spite of, folks like yourself.
quote: Erm, not really sure how, as a UK subject, I have anything to do with why a city, it's population and the surrounding area in the richest and greatest country in the world are/have being left in their own filth for years on end???
quote: The argument that liberals are socialist is funny when we want to cut government spending by leaving Iraq to the Iraqis, and repeal tax cuts
quote: Conservatives have been responsible for all that we face as a nation
quote: They want to pull out of the war because it was popular with the media.
quote: i'd rather stop destroying our planet.
quote: No, Global Warming is a coined phrase to sell fear and whatever else. Just ask Al Gore and the 780 Million dollars he's made of the phrase Global Warming....
quote: I see those kinds of juvenile tactics (morphing/spoofing other people's IDs) all the time on political blogs. The real funny thing is they really think they are making a difference and swaying people's opinions about the bloggers they've spoofed. It reminds me of a five year old child throwing a tantrum for attention.
quote: Temperature can go up during global cooling. Temperature can go down during global warming.
quote: 1. Is it better to produce too much food, so we can keep prices down and throw away the stuff we don't eat?
quote: 2. Lower prices for food means farmers get less paid. The ones that are hurt the most by this is third world farmers who cannot afford the luxury of using oil-based fertilizers.
quote: 4. Most ethanol is produced in Brazil. I doubt growing cheap food in South America will help the Africans much.
quote: 5. ...but the cheaper oil prices as a result of more people using bio-fuels will help everyone!
quote: just how large a population can our planet sustain?"
quote: I don't really believe in "global warming"
quote: re·li·gion –noun 1. a set of beliefs concerning the cause, nature, and purpose of the universe , esp. when considered as the creation of a superhuman agency or agencies, usually involving devotional and ritual observances , and often containing a moral code governing the conduct of human affairs.
quote: No different than going to the priest, saying "forgive me father for I have sinned", then taking your penance.
quote: Really that's the main reason for any religon - fear, acceptance and good old fashion brain washing.
quote: but it isn't necessarily based on fear or acceptance
quote: Its not a religion.
quote: FIT- Jesus was real, he was just a pacifist jewish guy who convinced people he was the son of a deity.
quote: Jesus is the son of God and does live even today.
quote: If we don't do a lot of this then we *will* run out of natural resources and we'll be royally f****d.
quote: Alaska is at the vanguard of climate change. The state's northern parts have seen an average temperature rise of three degrees celsius in recent decades Now the permafrost - the frozen ground that previously kept the Ninglik stable, as well as providing a solid base for the village's scattered houses - is melting.
quote: Alaska's Governor Sarah Palin has set up special "immediate action" committees to deal with both the causes and consequences of global warming. She appointed environmental lawyer Larry Hartig as her commissioner for the environment. He accepts there is a massive challenge ahead. "Climate change is an immediate and serious problem for people all around this state," he says. "It's hitting us in a variety of ways right now. It's particularly hitting rural Alaska, with flooding and erosion. "It's also changing patterns of our fish and game around the state, which is impacting people's ability to get the subsistence foods they've relied on for hundreds of years." The University of Alaska Institute for Social and Economic Reform carried out a study into the costs of climate change, based on predictive climate models. It estimated the bills could run into billions of dollars.
quote: Alaska's Governor Sarah Palin has set up special "immediate action" committees to deal with both the causes and consequences of global warming.
quote: rather than rashly attempting to stop the gears of nature:
quote: As DailyTech reported earlier, Arctic sea ice this year has also increased substantially from its low in 2007.
quote: Recent short-term gains in Arctic ice coverage indicate nothing about the eventual state of the Arctic... We know the Arctic will eventually be open water. The only question is how it will affect us...
quote: Arctic sea ice has melted at a slower rate compared to last year, but scientists warn it still shows a downward trend towards ice-free Arctic summers.
quote: Getting off of fossil fuels relieves are dependency on foreign oil
quote: reduces smog and air pollution
quote: using solar panels on your roof will lower energy costs as well as reduce emissions and waste
quote: Getting off fossil fuels, means using less over time until you use none. It does not mean drilling here.
quote: If smog issues are solved, how come we still have smog? How come we have asthmatics who can't go outside on red days? Why do we still have red days? Maybe you just don't go outside.
quote: You would probably still gripe about solar energy even if solar panels were being given away for free.
quote: As for nuclear... I noticed that you failed to include safe in your list of the benefits of nuclear power. I personally am not against nuclear power in concept. I am against using outdated technologies that result in abundant amounts of untreatable waste, and do not address sustainability and safety.
quote: The US can afford higher energy costs.
quote: Most Alaskan Glaciers Retreating, Thinning, and Stagnating