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Glacier Bay National Park. Two and a half centuries ago, the entire area was covered by thick sheets of ice.
High snowfall and cold weather to blame.

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.

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RE: Hmmmmmm.
By probedb on 10/16/2008 11:00:05 AM , Rating: 2
But what does it matter if what we do as a result of it is a good thing?

Recycling, environmentally friendly products, cars that get better MPG, less reliance on fossil fuels etc.

If we don't do a lot of this then we *will* run out of natural resources and we'll be royally f****d.

Whether global warming is real or not is irrelevant as far as those things are concerned.

RE: Hmmmmmm.
By Curelom on 10/16/2008 12:22:59 PM , Rating: 3
Whether global warming is real or not is completly relevant. You don't have to sacrifice truth. The ends do NOT justify the means. Recycling, less pollution, all good things, but do it under truthful principles rather than the ruse of global warming.

RE: Hmmmmmm.
By FITCamaro on 10/16/2008 12:53:41 PM , Rating: 2
So what if we develop algae that can produce all the fuel we'll ever need forever. As we've already done (it just needs to be scaled up).

Then do we need even more fuel efficient cars? Environmentalists will tell you yes because carbon is this evil thing now. It doesn't matter that our bodies contain large amounts of carbon. Or that the environment sends more carbon into the atmosphere then we can ever hope to. We have to stop producing it.

I'm all for recycling though because otherwise we're just wasting perfectly good stuff.

RE: Hmmmmmm.
By Curelom on 10/16/2008 1:05:55 PM , Rating: 2
Correct, when I mean less pollution, I'm not talking CO2. I'm talking REAL pollution.


Oh, wait, I just polluted.


There I go again.

I don't get the commerical where the tree goes up and hugs the house because it is using less CO2. Trees breath CO2

RE: Hmmmmmm.
By Omega215D on 10/16/2008 1:14:43 PM , Rating: 4
Maybe the tree was attempting to strangle the house that emitted less CO2 but couldn't because it was malnourished.

RE: Hmmmmmm.
By foolsgambit11 on 10/16/2008 8:50:52 PM , Rating: 2
I think because people conflate the release of greenhouse gasses and the release of other pollutants. Bad for the environment = bad for the environment, they think. And when much of our power comes from coal, there is some truth to that (despite reduced pollution levels). So if they use less CO2, that's the same as polluting less, which is good for the environment, represented by a friendly Ent, hugging his former flock, which has been cut up to make a house.

RE: Hmmmmmm.
By mdogs444 on 10/16/2008 1:35:39 PM , Rating: 2
If we don't do a lot of this then we *will* run out of natural resources and we'll be royally f****d.

Err no. I suggest you read up on the abundance of natural resources that we have. Not to mention, that as technology improves, so does efficiency. You really need to pull your head out of the sand Mr. Gore.

“And I don't know why [Apple is] acting like it’s superior. I don't even get it. What are they trying to say?” -- Bill Gates on the Mac ads
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