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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: Lies, lies, lies
By ddarko on 10/16/2008 2:19:56 PM , Rating: -1
What the link demonstrates is how biased your reading of the data is. You "interpret" the fact that the Arctic sea ice is the SECOND lowest level this year as demonstrating the the warming doesn't occur, ignoring the 30-year historical trend. This is like looking at the presidential tracking poll, seeing that John McCain's numbers are up on Tuesday and concluding, "See, Obama doesn't have a lead! McCain was up on Tuesday!" Absurd. Of course there will be year-to-year fluctuations but what the scientists see - and which you refuse to acknowledge - is a decades-long melting, regardless of whether or not it blips up in one year. And what a dubious blip it was: to crow that the sea ice was ONLY the SECOND lowest - wow, what an achievement! That surely demonstrates the earth is getting colder!

Your determination to let your political ideology distort the actual data is revealed most clearly by your repeated sarcastic use of titles like "cold to blame" to belittle scientists who believe the data demonstrates global warming is real. Scientists are not rooting for the sea ice to melt - they don't "blame" cold for anything - nor are they so ignorant that they don't realize that colder temperatures leads to more ice, as you sarcastically imply. I will take the findings of career professional scientists over the "analysis" of someone with an axe to grind any day.

RE: Lies, lies, lies
By masher2 on 10/16/2008 2:55:14 PM , Rating: 5
> "You "interpret" the demonstrating the the warming doesn't occur"

I said no such thing. While I doubt any rational statement will penetrate your spittle-specked diatribe, had you read my analysis which followed that article, you would have seen these words from me:
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...
In fact, in that article and many others, I've repeatedly and clearly stated the Arctic has been-- up until the past year-- on a long-term warming trend for the past several centuries.

There were no "lies" in the article, nothing but a bald statement of fact. You chose to interpret those facts incorrectly, in a partisan, tendentious manner. I can't help that...but I can set the record straight.

"Death Is Very Likely The Single Best Invention Of Life" -- Steve Jobs
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