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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 werepossum on 10/20/2008 6:19:15 PM , Rating: 2
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???

Well, that one's pretty simple. By questioning anything regarding catastrophic anthropogenic global warming, even in jest or sarcasm, you make Gaea cry. Gaea's warm salty tears raise the sea level directly and melt the glaciers, which also raises sea levels. Thus it's selfish bastards like yourself, not decades of spending levee maintenance funds on Mardi Gras fountains and bypasses to casinos coupled with pants-on-head retarded local and state government, that caused Hurricane Katrina as well as the disaster that followed. Learn some science before you kill us all, man!

RE: Son of a...
By Aloonatic on 10/21/2008 3:58:10 AM , Rating: 2
I have learnt my lesson so I will buy a birch from a tree that has died of natural causes and give myself 20 lashes every time I question a celebrity who tells me that global warming is real and happening and that I should turn off all my lights, central heating, live in a cave quietly and unquestioningly whilst only using my car to get too and from work at the most whilst they jet their little rat dogs around the world to get their nails clipped just how they like it (they can tell) and cappuccinos from their favourite coffee house in NY to London etc.

I have committed the original sin and I must be punished.

There's no way I'm giving up Mardi-Gras and you may take away my freedom but you'll never take the pants off of my head, so I'm with the politicians on that one! =D

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