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Scientists Predict Faster Retreat for Antarctic Thwaites Glacier

Thwaites Glacier is closely watched for its potential to raise global sea levels The retreat of Antarctica's fast-flowing Thwaites Glacier is expected to speed up within 20 years, once the glacier detaches from an underwater ridge that is currently holding it back, says a new study in Geophysical Research Letters.Thwaites Glacier, which drains into west Antarctica's Amundsen Sea, is being closely watched for its potential to raise global sea levels as the planet warms.Neighboring glaciers in the Amundsen region are also thinning rapidly, including Pine Island Glacier and the much larger Getz Ice Shelf. The study is the latest to confirm the importance of seafloor topography in predicting how these glaciers will behave in the near future.Scientists had previously identified a rock feature off west Antarctica that appeared to be slowing the glacier's slide into the sea. But this study is the first to connect it to a larger ridge, using geophysical data collected during flights over Thwaites Glacier in 2009 under NASA's Ice Bridge campaign.The newly discovered ridge is 700 meters tall, with two peaks-one that currently anchors the glacier and another farther off shore that held the glacier in place between 55 and 150 years ago, according to ...

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Extreme Melting On Greenland Ice Sheet

Glacial Melt Cycle Could Become Self-Amplifying The Greenland ice sheet can experience extreme melting even when temperatures don't hit record highs, according to a new analysis by Dr. Marco Tedesco, assistant professor in the Department of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences at The City College of New York. His findings suggest that glaciers could undergo a self-amplifying cycle of melting and warming that would be difficult to halt."We are finding that even if you don't have record-breaking highs, as long as warm temperatures persist you can get record-breaking melting because of positive feedback mechanisms," said Professor Tedesco, who directs CCNY's Cryospheric Processes Laboratory and also serves on CUNY Graduate Center doctoral faculty.Professor Tedesco and his team collected data for the analysis this past summer during a four-week expedition to the Jakobshavn Isbræ glacier in western Greenland. Their arrival preceded the onset of the melt season.Combining data gathered on the ground with microwave satellite recordings and the output from a model of the ice sheet, he and graduate student Patrick Alexander found a near-record loss of snow and ice this year. The extensive melting continued even without last year's record highs.The team recorded data on air temperatures, wind speed, exposed ice and ...

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Warming Revives Dream of Sea Route in Russian Arctic

Global warming is shrinking the Arctic ice pack, opening new sea lanes Rounding the northernmost tip of Russia in his oceangoing tugboat this summer, Capt. Vladimir V. Bozanov saw plenty of walruses, some pods of beluga whales and in the distance a few icebergs.One thing Captain Bozanov did not encounter while towing an industrial barge 2,300 miles across the Arctic Ocean was solid ice blocking his path anywhere along the route. Ten years ago, he said, an ice-free passage, even at the peak of summer, was exceptionally rare.But environmental scientists say there is now no doubt that global warming is shrinking the Arctic ice pack, opening new sea lanes and making the few previously navigable routes near shore accessible more months of the year. And whatever the grim environmental repercussions of greenhouse gas, companies in Russia and other countries around the Arctic Ocean are mining that dark cloud's silver lining by finding new opportunities for commerce and trade.Oil companies might be the most likely beneficiaries, as the receding polar ice cap opens more of the sea floor to exploration. The oil giant Exxon Mobil recently signed a sweeping deal to drill in the Russian sector of the Arctic Ocean. But ...

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Why Arctic sea ice melting matters

The shrinking and receding sea ice has dire consequences The shrinking and receding sea ice has dire consequences. First, as the white ice that normally reflects sunlight away from Earth melts, more of the dark open water of the Arctic Ocean is is exposed, absorbing heat and causing more ice to melt. This is a positive feedback loop where ice melt causes more ice to melt. Second, distinctive Arctic species such as the polar bear, walrus and ice seals depend on the sea ice; they cannot survive without it, so as the sea ice shrinks and thins, these animals' continued existence is jeopardized, as are the Arctic peoples whose cultures and ways of life have depended on the animals and the ice for millenia.

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Canada’ s Arctic Nearly Loses Entire Ice Shelf

Rapid Loss This Summer Blamed On Global Warming Two ice shelves that existed before Canada was settled by Europeans diminished significantly this summer, one nearly disappearing altogether, Canadian scientists say in newly published research.The loss is important as a marker of global warming, returning the Canadian Arctic to conditions that date back thousands of years, scientists say.Floating icebergs that have broken free as a result pose a risk to offshore oil facilities and potentially to shipping lanes. The breaking apart of the ice shelves also reduces the environment that supports microbial life and changes the look of Canada's coastline.Luke Copland is an associate professor in the geography department at the University of Ottawa who co-authored the research published on Carleton University's website. He said the Serson Ice Shelf shrank from 79.15 square miles (205 square kilometres) to two remnant sections five years ago, and was further diminished this past summer.Copland said the shelf went from a 16-square-mile (42-square-kilometre) floating glacier tongue to 9.65 square miles (25 square kilometres), and the second section from 13.51 square miles (35 square kilometres) to 2 square miles (7 square kilometres), off Ellesmere Island's northern coastline. This past summer, Ward Hunt Ice Shelf's central area ...

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Arctic sea ice volume drops to record low last year

Researchers created a model that predicts ice thickness across the Arctic Ocean A new study suggests that the 2007 record for the lowest volume of Arctic sea ice in the summertime was broken last year.Using observations of winds, ocean and air temperatures, researchers from the Polar Science Center of the University of Washington created a model that predicts ice thickness across the Arctic Ocean, explains The Telegraph.According to the research team, led by Axel Schweiger, "ice volume is now plunging faster than it did at the same time last year when the record was set," reports Zee News. Their results will be published in a forthcoming issue of the Journal of Geophysical Research, Oceans.The research model was checked against real observations of ice thickness in the Arctic, but is still only a prediction. "The approach has some detractors because it is modelling rather than direct observations of thickness, and therefore contains some uncertainty," wrote The Telegraph.The records for the amount of sea ice are based on a volume calculated from area and thickness of the ice. Determining the sea ice's thickness requires either numerous observations or modeling, but measuring ice area is much easier.Using satellites, scientists have found that the ...

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Malaysia proposes sharing economic activities in South China Sea

Sharing the exploration of the natural resources Malaysia has proposed the setting up of a special purpose vehicle for the sharing of economic activities among the claimant countries in the South China Sea.Defence Minister Datuk Seri Dr Ahmad Zahid Hamidi said Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak had suggested that the countries concerned create multilateral discussions rather than bilateral talks."If we may translate the suggestion, we would like to explore the natural resources, in particular hydro carbon, to be shared among the claimant countries."A special purpose vehicle can be created to share not only in terms of equity participation but also in terms of sharing the exploration of the natural resources," he said at the question-and-answer session on the final day of the 10th IISS Asia Security Summit - The Shangri-La Dialogue, here, Sunday.Brunei, China, Malaysia, the Philippines, Taiwan and Vietnam all have a stake on the Spratly Islands in the South China Sea. Of these countries, only Brunei lacks a military presence in the area.Dr Ahmad Zahid said: "Our key performance index is not based on how many wars we are going to win but how many wars or crises we are going to avoid."So our role is ...

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