backtop


Print 205 comment(s) - last by eyebeeemmpawn.. on Oct 24 at 12:45 PM


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.



Comments     Threshold


This article is over a month old, voting and posting comments is disabled

RE: I knew!!
By Justin Case on 10/17/2008 8:22:24 PM , Rating: 2
Wind turbines are viable in some areas, but very few. Biodiesel as it exists in the US is a scam. Solar panels, on the other hand, have improved massively over the past few years, and are set to improve even more over the next decade.

For the short-term, lots of nuclear plus some solar is definitely the way to go, and most real ecologists (the ones with a science degree, not the rich drop-outs who think it's cool to be in Greenpeace) agree.

In the long term, solar will probably replace everything else (virtually all the energy on Earth comes from there anyway; we'll just be cutting out the middle man).

But if you think we don't have more nuclear because of the "tree-huggers", you're very naif. Sorry to shatter your worldview, but the "tree-hugger lobby" doesn't have nearly as much power as the people who would lose millions if nuclear was adopted in large scale: big oil.

If we didn't waste oil to generate electricity, we'd be (almost) self-sufficient for transportation (which is the area where the energy density of fossil fuels is really essential). But when you have a president that walks hand in hand with the biggest oil "pusher" in the world, what do you expect?


"Well, we didn't have anyone in line that got shot waiting for our system." -- Nintendo of America Vice President Perrin Kaplan

Related Articles
Arctic Sees Massive Gain in Ice Coverage
September 3, 2008, 2:44 PM
















botimage
Copyright 2014 DailyTech LLC. - RSS Feed | Advertise | About Us | Ethics | FAQ | Terms, Conditions & Privacy Information | Kristopher Kubicki