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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: Son of a...
By InvertMe on 10/16/2008 1:30:10 PM , Rating: 4
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....

I cannot disagree with you there. I wish the term would go away and people would just focus on living cleaner. Striving to use renewable resources, cleaner ways to manufacture the good we use, less toxic toys, computers and cleaners... All things that have tangible real world benefits.

RE: Son of a...
By Tsuwamono on 10/16/2008 10:49:00 PM , Rating: 5
really regardless of the debate of whether or not global warming is real the fact is that SMOG is and its bad for HUMANS. forget about the planet for a second, smog is bad for us.
I really see no down side to living alittle "greener"

RE: Son of a...
By nycromes on 10/17/2008 9:46:43 AM , Rating: 2
Anything to keep pushing that agenda....every time information comes out that shows the contrary to the environmental movement they shift the focus to something else until that is refuted.

If you want to live cleaner because it makes you feel better... be my guest. On the other hand, don't tell me I have to spend my hard earned money to live "greener" because it makes you feel better. You earn your money, spend it as you want, but that means I get to spend my money as I like as well. Green products are more expensive and very often, less functional when compared to other products that serve the same purpose (ie: E85 vs Gasoline). I know you can probably show some products that are cheaper or just as functional at the same price and thats fine. The beauty of this country is I can purchase which ever product I decide to, not the one you want me to purchase, regardless of reason.

RE: Son of a...
By wookie1 on 10/17/2008 2:15:43 PM , Rating: 2
Smog cools the planet. Some of the recent warming during the 20th century may be due to cleaner air as pollution controls were adopted.

Most of the debate is about plant food (CO2, the trace gas that is essential for most of the life on earth), and why it is so important to live in a hut and eat bugs to reduce your CO2 emissions. The goal of most of these efforts is to enable central control so that the populace is at the mercy of the Gaia worshippers.

"And boy have we patented it!" -- Steve Jobs, Macworld 2007
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