Thwaites Glacier in West Antarctica is currently the focus of a major scientific campaign. Why is Thwaites Glacier of so much interest, however? How much ice is there, and how much would sea levels rise if it all melted?
Glacier is roughly the size of UK (176 x103 km2). The glacier
terminus is nearly 120 km wide, and the bed of the glacier reaches to >1000
m below sea level. Pine Island Glacier and Thwaites Glacier together account
for 3% of grounded ice-sheet area, but they receive 7% of Antarctica’s snowfall1.
In a new article in the journal Nature, Stephen Rintoul and colleagues present two very different visions of Antarctica’s future, from the perspective of an observer looking back from 2070. In one vision, humanity continues to exploit Earth’s natural resources (such as fossils fuels) and does little to protect the environment, and in the other, there is a global movement towards conservation. The article shows how Antarctica will change over the next 50 years, should either of these two situations occur.
Post by Jacob Bendle. Continue reading
This is a brief article on why I blog, some things I have learned by blogging, and how I think it benefits me. Lots of people have written articles about why blogging is important for outreach (for example, to counter misunderstandings like this), but I also think that blogging is good to do for you yourself, as well. For an entirely ego-centric blog post, read on…
How much ice is there in Antarctica? And if it were to melt, how much would global sea levels rise, and how quickly? Continue reading
The Arctic’s sea ice extent reached an all-time low in September 2012, with the smallest recorded extent since satellite observations began. At 3.42 million square kilometres, it may still sound large, but this small extent of Arctic sea ice could have profound long-term consequences, and it follows a long trend of low sea ice conditions. Sea ice extent has been decreasing over the past 4-5 decades (Kinnard et al., 2011), and sea ice extent is now about 2 million square kilometres less than it was during the late twentieth century. Continue reading
A paper in this weeks’ Nature by Mulvaney et al. 2012 suggested that the climate around the Antarctic Peninsula has varied extensively over the Holocene. This data is derived from a 363.9 m ice core from the Mount Haddington Ice Cap on James Ross Island. Continue reading
In this new website, www.greenlandmelting.com, you can browse maps of the surface melt on Greenland in each year from 1979. You can also look at years with extreme melt events, such as 2010 and 2011.
Dr Tom Bracegirdle from the British Antarctic Survey presented a plenary at the 2012 SCAR-OSC, where he showed us his projections for climate change and sea level rise over the next 100 years from his modelling experiments. Continue reading
Proving Climate Change
When reading the New Scientists’ focus on Climate Change, I was struck by the number of comments along the lines of, ‘This is theory, we won’t believe it until you prove it’. Two things came to my attention. Firstly, that climate change has been accorded almost myth or religious-like status, and has become something that you can either ‘believe’ or ‘disbelieve’. Secondly, that many people are profoundly naive about the way in which science works. And so I was motivated to write a brief piece about scientific research design. Stay with me now – I’ll make it as interesting as possible! Continue reading
Today, I am at the British Antarctic Survey in Cambridge. This is because I am meeting people to discuss my next season, which will be to Ablation Valley, Alexander Island. Continue reading