Glacier melt discovered to have an upside

From Virginia Tech, a surprising study showing some biological benefit of melting glaciers.

Glacier melt adds ancient edibles to marine buffet

Glaciers along the Gulf of Alaska are enriching stream and near shore marine ecosystems from a surprising source – ancient carbon contained in glacial runoff, researchers from four universities and the U.S. Forest Service report in the December 24, 2009, issue of the journal Nature*.

In spring 2008, Eran Hood, associate professor of hydrology with the Environmental Science Program at the University of Alaska Southeast, set out to measure the nutrients that reach the gulf from five glaciated watersheds he can drive to from his Juneau office. “We don’t currently have much information about how runoff from glaciers may be contributing to productivity in downstream marine ecosystems. This is a particularly critical question given the rate at which glaciers along the Gulf of Alaska are thinning and receding” said Hood.

Hood then asked former graduate school colleague Durelle Scott, now an assistant professor of biological systems engineering at Virginia Tech, to help analyze the organic matter and nutrient (nitrogen and phosphorus) loads being exported from the Juneau-area study watersheds. “Because there are few reports of nutrient yields from glacial watersheds, Eran and I decided to compare the result from a non-glacial watershed with those of a watershed partially covered by a glacier and a watershed fully covered by a glacier,” said Scott.

IMAGE: A glacier river plume enters the marine environment in Berner’s Bay near Juneau, Alaska.

Click here for more information.

Hood and Scott’s initial findings, reported in the September 2008 issue of the journal Nature Geoscience (http://www.nature.com/ngeo/journal/v1/n9/abs/ngeo280.html), presented something of a mystery. As might be expected, there is more organic matter from a forested watershed than from a fully or partially glacier-covered watershed. With soil development, organic matter is transported from the landscape during runoff events. However, there was still a considerable amount of organic carbon exported from the glaciated landscape.

How can a glacier be a source of the organic carbon? His curiosity peeked [sic], in spring 2009, Hood’s Ph.D. student, Jason Fellman, collected samples from 11 watersheds along the Gulf of Alaska from Juneau to the Kenai Peninsula. The samples were analyzed to determine the age, source, and biodegradability of organic matter derived from glacier inputs.

“We found that the more glacier there is in the watershed, the more carbon is bioavailable. And the higher the percentage of glacier coverage, the older the organic material is – up to 4,000 years old,” said Scott.

Hood and Scott hypothesize that forests that lived along the Gulf of Alaska between 2,500 to 7,000 years ago were covered by glaciers, and this organic matter is now coming out. “The organic matter in heavily glaciated watersheds is labile, like sugar. Microorganisms appear to be metabolizing ancient carbon and as the microorganisms die and decompose, biodegradable dissolved organic carbon is being flushed out with the glacier melt,” said Scott.

IMAGE: Researchers measured the nutrient content of subglacial outflow from the Mendenhall Glacier near Juneau, Alaska, seen here.

Click here for more information.

How much? “Our findings suggest that runoff from glaciers may be a quantitatively important source of bioavailable organic carbon for coastal ecosystems in the Gulf of Alaska and, as a result, future changes in glacier extent may impact the food webs in this region that support some of the most productive fisheries in the United States,” said Hood.

###

*The article, “Glaciers as a source of ancient, labile organic matter to the marine environment,” was authored by Hood; Fellman, now at the Institute of Arctic Biology at the University of Alaska Fairbanks; Robert G.M. Spencer and Peter J. Hernes of the Department of Land, Air and Water Resources at the University of California Davis; Rick Edwards and David D’Amore of the Pacific Northwest Research Station of the U.S.D.A. Forest Service in Juneau, and Scott.

The research is supported by Scott and Hood’s three-year grant from National Science Foundation to study the impact of Alaska’s melting glaciers on the transport and fate of nutrients in coastal watersheds in the Gulf of Alaska.

Also as part of the NSF-funded research, this past summer, Scott and his Ph.D. student, Michael Nassry of Hopwood, Pa., along with biological systems engineering senior Andrew Jeffery of Fairfax, Va., who was doing a 10-week undergraduate research study with Hood, conducted the first hydrologic tracer experiment on a supraglacial stream — a stream entirely on top of the glacier. The helicopter company Northstar provided complimentary transportation to the base camp on the Mendenhall Glacier, where the team injected a salt, reactive nitrogen, and phosphorus over a 150 meter range, then collected water samples over a five-hour period. “At the end of the experiment, the helicopters were no longer flying, which provided the opportunity to sleep on top of the glacier,” said Scott. Samples from this experiment are still being analyzed, and initial findings will be presented at the annual meeting of the American Geophysical Union December 14-18 in San Francisco.

Learn more about Eran Hood’s research at http://www.uas.alaska.edu/dir/ewhood.html

Learn more about Durelle Scott’s research at https://filebox.vt.edu/users/dscott/web/

Advertisements

72 thoughts on “Glacier melt discovered to have an upside

  1. At last, something positive from melting ice. Interesting that the carbon and other nutrients are coming from material buried 4 to 7 thousand years ago, aren’t we told repeatedly that glaciers have been there since the dawn of time? Imagine that a forest was growing there all those millenia ago, must have been warmer then I guess.

  2. Oops, I should have said between 2.5 and 7 thousand years ago… have to read and re-read, then respond.

  3. It sounds like the unprecedented current glacial melt was greater during the time of Moses than today.
    If the carbon is from trees that grew there 2500-7000 years ago…

  4. Didn’t they get the memo? The global temperature of 1979 was the optimal temperature. The extent of glaciation was just perfect. Any rise in temperature will bring only bad effects. Nothing good can come from any rise in global temperature…or from any decline, if it can be shown to be Mann-made.

  5. His curiosity piqued. spelling correction please.
    REPLY: You are correct on the spelling, but I’m going to leave it just like it is, since this is exactly how it was written from the University press office. -A

  6. How does the existance of an Alaskan forrest under that glacier 7000 years ago match the Yamal proxy graph? Alalysis of tree species?

  7. This is not at all surprising. Iceberg-rafted material has also been found to improve ocean productivity. There is still a tremendous amount of discovery to be made in the exciting field of glaciology and its relationship to the other Earth sciences.

  8. I never really saw much of a problem with melting glaciers, especially temperate glaciers in the Alps, Himalayas, etc. However, what if we were entering another glacial maximum? It may take hundreds or even thousands of years, but gradually, much of the most heavily populated regions of the World would become uninhabitable.

  9. >>REPLY: You are correct on the spelling, but I’m going to leave it just like it is, since this is exactly how it was written from the University press office. -A
    Perhaps you could use the convention of adding [sic] to indicate the fact that the misspelling is literally reproduced.
    cheers,
    gary

  10. What nonsense; don’t they know thatr Carbon is a dangerous pollutant lethal to living things. All hits talk about beneficial carbon. These guys must be smoking something, and it ain’t carbon.
    As for his spelling of at least three spellings for curiosity peeked; he certainly pikked the weirdest one.
    His curiosity that peeked when it probably should have minded its own business, knowing that curiosity killed the cat.
    But his curiosity could also have peaked, after which he just got bored with the whole thing; and forgot about it.
    So on to piqued, and really; what are you supposed to make of that most common spelling; sure beats the hell out of me.

  11. Is there a reference I can trust with sea level data including ocean levels if ALL of the ice melts? I remember Al Gore was talking about 30 feet in Inconvenient Truth, but I discounted it almost immediately because of the the obvious lies I was already parsing.

  12. So the carbon that was trapped by the glaciers winds up in the sea, where it will join the biological processes that sequester carbon as sediment.
    Given how historically low the atmospheric CO2 levels are, and the ongoing converting of carbon to rock, I wonder if life on this planet has a built-in suicide mechanism. If man was not here burning the dirty fossil fuels, and volcanic output was insufficient, would the plants pull the atmospheric CO2 levels down to where they starve themselves to death, with all life that depended on plants for nutrition soon following suit?
    As shown here, you can also see that carbon being used on land is also winding up in the oceans. I currently know of no processes where this sediment is broken down so the carbon may be used on land, acting on a timescale that may avert this ending of CO2-O2 cycle life.
    Of course if the CO2 dropped too low everything would end up frozen over anyway, what with CO2 being such an important greenhouse gas and all… 😉

  13. When I went to Glacier Bay, we were accompanied by a Federal Ranger who was an American Indian from the area. He told a fascinating ‘legend’ of how his people once inhabited the area but years of unrelenting snow caused the fjord or deep bay to become glaciated. Archeologist and cartographers have since confirmed the bay was much more ice free in historical times.

  14. “kadaka (15:35:38) :
    So the carbon that was trapped by the glaciers winds up in the sea, where it will join the biological processes that sequester carbon as sediment.
    Given how historically low the atmospheric CO2 levels are

    Don’t worry. I quote Mr. Courtney from an older threat:
    Courtney:
    “The total CO2 flow into the atmosphere is at least 156.5 GtC/year
    with 150 GtC/year of this being from natural origin and 6.5 GtC/year
    from human origin. So, on the average, 3/156.5 = 2% of all emissions accumulate.

    http://nasascience.nasa.gov/earth-science/oceanography/ocean-earth-system/ocean-carbon-cycle

    The diagram shows the amounts of carbon in the parts of the carbon cycle to be
    the atmosphere 760 PgC (increasing at a rate of about 3 PgC p.a.)
    the ocean surface layers 800 PgC
    the deep ocean 38,000 PgC
    plants and soils 2,000 PgC

    So the oceans emit enough CO2 to stabilize it, acting as a buffer for terrestrial life. Which makes the question of CO2 emissions control seem rather silly.
    Mr. Courtney has a paper about this:
    Rorsch A, Courtney RS & Thoenes D, ‘The Interaction of Climate
    Change and the Carbon Dioxide Cycle’ E&E v16no2 (2005).

  15. Gil Dewart (15:05:27) :
    There is still a tremendous amount of discovery to be made in the exciting field of glaciology and its relationship to the other Earth sciences.

    How exciting can glaciology be? Who wants to study for it and enter the field? The glaciers will soon all be melted away, in too short of a time to get a good career out of it. Glaciology sounds like a waste of a good education and nothing more.
    And you can check on that with the noted climatologist, the esteemed Dr. Al Gore! He has a Nobel Prize!

  16. Peeked or piqued? Clearly the way AW handled it with (sic) is proper, since he is quoting the source.
    As for word choice, I would suggest “aroused” rather than picqued. Since my Websters define piqued as: to arouse resentment in, as by slighting as its first definition.
    After reading a number of scientific papers, press releases and blog postings on climate change, may I suggest that we follow Hemingway’s example, and write so the reader, doesn’t have to stop and use a dictionary and or a text book to understand what the writer is trying to say. Maybe requiring the first $20 of every grant be spent on a copy of Strunk & White’s The Elements Of Style.

  17. Three points : First this is a short term upside if it proves to be a finding that can be extended to other glaciers. The retreat of the Juneau Icefield system is extensive.
    http://glacierchange.wordpress.com/2009/11/01/215/
    http://www.nichols.edu/departments/Glacier/juneau icefield.htm
    Second glaciers can have considerable biologic activity that losses in area do not help. http://www.nichols.edu/departments/Glacier/iceworm.htm
    Third there have been lots of dye tracer experiments in supraglacial streams, I did some on the Juneau Icefield even in the early 1980’s. And have annually used these in the North Cascades since 1984

  18. Hi,
    I just wanted to alert Watts up With That readers to a farmer in Australia who is on hunger strike. The Australian Government has stolen his property rights (Carbon Credits) to meet their Kyoto targets. Kevin Rudd ponced around Copenhagen, with targets met. On the backs of all Australian farmers.
    Can I encourage others to click on the link below, and add their comments to the Daily Telegraph story?
    http://www.dailytelegraph.com.au/news/dying-for-a-chat-with-kevin-rudd/comments-e6freuy9-1225814235842

  19. pat (15:35:46) :
    When I went to Glacier Bay, we were accompanied by a Federal Ranger who was an American Indian from the area. He told a fascinating ‘legend’ of how his people once inhabited the area but years of unrelenting snow caused the fjord or deep bay to become glaciated. Archeologist and cartographers have since confirmed the bay was much more ice free in historical times.

    maybe the most valuable comment on this whole thread.

  20. Interesting that the carbon and other nutrients are coming from material buried 4 to 7 thousand years ago

    It has often amazed me how the glacial studies of Alaska parallel findings in the Alps. As some glaciers receded in recent years in the alps, the glaciers were exposing wood of about the same age, with the average being about 5500 years. During the Holocene optimum some 5 to 7 thousand years ago, many of the alpine passes that are now glaciated were ice free and forested.
    Sea levels were also about 2 meters higher than they are today. There was also another significant climate shift about 2000 years ago, when climate started cooling as it has since on a millennial scale.

  21. Yes, to read the MSM and listen to Mr. Gore you might think the ice will soon be gone, but of course they don’t want real scientists to venture forth and find the truth about nature.

  22. Ha! I shared some office space with Scotty when he spent some time at MIT in the late 1990’s. Great guy.

  23. John F. Hultquist (16:08:17) :
    “Has anyone mentioned soot?”
    Yeah, haven’t you heard of the soot chewing arctic snapper?

  24. Since the first glacier formed so many millions of years ago, they have been melting, even during Ice Ages. What’s the big deal? I guess another benefit of global warming hysteria is that the nature is glacial runoff is being studied.
    peeked? peeked? peeked? Is this what a college education gets you these days? I can understand a misspelling/typo in a quickie comment; those quickies are messy affairs – the comments, that is. But when a formal statement/press release is posted by a higher education institution, I would expect a bit more due diligence in proofing before unveiling that short bit of prose to the entire world’s scrutiny.
    And, veering a bit OT, to the weather*. Here in Buffalo, today’s forecast was terribly wrong. … Again. The snow that was supposed to miss me – didn’t.
    This morning’s weather showed the patch of overnight snow clearing the area with a forecast (advisory) of lake effect snows well to the south of here. Figured I’d head out in the afternoon and make quick work of the two or three inches in an hour or so. … Right. Except that I ended up being parked right in the center of the target. And they changed the forecast several times this afternoon to issue lake effect snow warnings – after it kicked in. Looks like we got another ½’ of snow by the time the sun set and the lake effect snows finally drifted to the south where they were supposed to be all day – according to the ealier forecast. And now the wind’s picking up, which will make tomorrow’s shoveling even more fun through all that drifting snow and frigid temps (10-15°F) and strong winds.
    *[You know that it’s weather when you can see that the model {forecast} turns out to be wrong. Climate is when the model {forecast} can’t be proven wrong because, when the predicted event occurs, you are likely to already be dead, so the climate forecast is safe. Besides, there will also be newer, more robust models in place, so the failure of a previous model is irrelevant.]

  25. Is the Gaia Hypothesis biting the biter? Rather than nasty humans destroying her with their evil carbon, she merely activates previously unsuspected mechanisms to turn the situation in her favor and prosper.
    A delicious idea to savor.
    Oh yeah.
    /sarc

  26. DirkH (16:01:34) :
    No they won’t:

    Hey, that may be what WE want to believe, but didn’t Dr.Al say they’d be gone by 2035 or thereabouts? Start you freshman year now, go for your doctorate, you might not even have your loans paid off before it’s time for a new job in a different field, likely with some more education.
    And how is someone and their life partner(s) going to take care of their replacement units then? Think about the unactivated economic productivity providers!

  27. WEll we shouldn’t be making fun of the paper, even of its spellings.. But whether or not this is a good discovery; I doubt that it relates in any meaningful way to climate. We’ll find out eventually if this is important in some way; other than getting more grants for the researchers.

  28. Whoops, that should have been “start your freshman year.”
    This site has no comment edit function, and I am avoiding complaining about other people’s spelling. 🙂

  29. This pictures says so much.
    http://3.bp.blogspot.com/_ynOO15XuGnc/SyeybHWFxGI/AAAAAAAACJQ/xI2SNbhQ4hY/s1600-h/Alaskan_tree_stump_glacier.jpg
    Drought is what is causing glaciers in Glacier Nat’l Park to recede, not temperature.
    http://www.nrmsc.usgs.gov/files/norock/products/Pederson-et-al_EI_2006.pdf
    Terrific Glacier Page.
    http://www.appinsys.com/GlobalWarming/GW_4CE_Glaciers.htm
    Big report on Himalayan Glaciers, melting since 1850 like the rest.
    http://climaterealists.com/index.php?id=4392
    Speaking of Alaska, the temperature change occurred in 2 yrs and have since stabilized.
    http://climate.gi.alaska.edu/ClimTrends/Change/TempChange.html
    Seems to be on the downswing.
    http://climate.gi.alaska.edu/ClimTrends/Change/7708Change.html

  30. John K. Sutherland (14:54:56) said:

    His curiosity piqued. spelling correction please.
    REPLY: You are correct on the spelling, but I’m going to leave it just like it is, since this is exactly how it was written from the University press office. -A

    In a fit of pique the author clearly misspelled “piqued.”
    [1]pique
    1  /pik/ pronunciation [peek], piqued, piqu⋅ing, noun
    –verb (used with object)
    1. to affect with sharp irritation and resentment, esp. by some wound to pride: She was greatly piqued when they refused her invitation.
    2. to wound (the pride, vanity, etc.).
    3. to excite (interest, curiosity, etc.): Her curiosity was piqued by the gossip.
    4. to arouse an emotion or provoke to action: to pique someone to answer a challenge.
    5. Archaic. to pride (oneself) (usually fol. by on or upon).
    –verb (used without object)
    6. to arouse pique in someone: an action that piqued when it was meant to soothe.
    –noun
    7. a feeling of irritation or resentment, as from a wound to pride or self-esteem: to be in a pique.
    8. Obsolete. a state of irritated feeling between persons.
    Origin:
    1525–35; < MF pique (n.), piquer (v.) < VL *piccare to pick 1 ; see pickax, pike 2 , piqué

  31. No, this report is utterly wrong. There will be mass extinctions, destruction, and death. DOOM I say! DOOM!

  32. Oh rats, the font size tag didn’t work. Anyway, I forgot to say that the curiosity is thus:
    Alaskan glaciers have organic matter in them, but weren’t we told they are leftovers from the last glacial maximum? So, 2.5 to 4 thousand years ago, there was no ice in Alaska? Why is that? Where was the runaway tipping point? Where were the positive feedback cycles that kept Alaska from freezing over? Hmmm?

  33. “Drought is what is causing glaciers in Glacier Nat’l Park to recede, not temperature.”
    That study only goes to 2000. I haven’t been able to find much newer than 2002. Anyone have any idea what the glaciers have been doing the past couple of years?

  34. The whole point of “unequivocal” and “the science is settled”, of course, is to abort the debate and silence the science.

  35. DirkH (15:45:59) :
    Don’t worry.

    Sorry, but the linked article doesn’t help. [And I had to refresh myself on the power prefixes to know that PgC was Peta (10 ^ 15) grams of Carbon.] It clearly says most of the theoretically available carbon is stored in the deep ocean. The sedimentation processes lead to carbon sequestering for millions of years. It takes quite a long time for the geological processes to make what was ocean bottom into surface land, where weathering and biological activity can reduce the rock to where the carbonates can be converted to usable carbon forms. Waiting for tectonic action, for plates to subduct so the sedimentary rocks get melted and the carbon released, is likewise going to take awhile.
    In the meantime, evolution has provided us with plants that are highly efficient at wringing the available carbon from their environment. And the sedimentation continues. Plus, cold water can hold more CO2. If we did enter an ice age, how quickly would the oceans soak up the atmospheric CO2? It could be a rather sudden downward trend, and since we are starting with such low atmospheric levels to begin with, we could bottom out at plant death relatively quickly. Cutting carbon emissions may be cutting down a buffer zone we will dearly need later.

  36. “kadaka (18:05:37) :
    […]
    Cutting carbon emissions may be cutting down a buffer zone we will dearly need later.”
    Now i see your point. You’re right about that. The orthodoxy would call us lunatics to fear the opposite of what they fear. I’ve just been on von Storch’s blog, he started one, it’s called klimazwiebel which is german for climate onion. Nothing much to see there, he has a poll running about whether people like a “how to debunk denier’s arguments” page he links to. He’s so nineties (back then when global warming was a scare).

  37. One thing to keep in mind is that because a glacier is retreating at its face does not mean that it is not accumulating mass overall. It can take a hundred years or more for increased accumulation at high altitude to flow down and be seen at the termination of the glacier. 2007 and 2008 saw years were there were several feet of snow left from the previous season when the new snows of the current season arrived. It looks like 2010 will be another such year if current snowfall totals hold up. And, interestingly enough, this is reflected in both Alaska and the Italian Alps. In 2008 there was still snow at sea level in Valdez in June.
    In many cases what is happening at the face of the glacier is an indication of what has happened over the past 50 years or more and might not be an indication of what is happening overall at the current time. Drought conditions 100 years ago might manifest today as glacial retreat even though the upper reaches of the glacier might be gaining mass today.

  38. complimentary transportation

    “It’s so nice to transport you today, you’re such a well-behaved passenger. That color looks good on you. You packed your equipment so nicely, and it fits well in my cargo compartment. Thanks for choosing a day with such good weather.”

  39. “crosspatch (18:28:21) :
    In many cases what is happening at the face of the glacier is an indication of what has happened over the past 50 years or more and might not be an indication of what is happening overall at the current time. ”
    For some reason the BBC never mentioned that when talking about retreating glaciers. Thanks for this comment! WUWT is full of amazing insights for me!

  40. 1. If NSF had only known that something positive could have come out of the study, they would have turned down the grant application. I guess you can’t just assume that a proposal studying melting glaciers is going to be AGW friendly.
    2. “George E. Smith (15:14:39) :
    ….But his curiosity could also have peaked, after which he just got bored with the whole thing…”
    Oh I like that one, because you get two for the price of one spelling, as in, “when he was bored, his curiosity would have been peaked.” (2 syllables)

  41. It’s good to see some healthy debate going on in these pages. Among other things, it demonstrates how little we know, and how much we need to know, expecially when it comes to scales and rates and regionalization. At the last glacial maximum (approx. 20K years ago) about one-third of Earth’s land surface was covered by ice. Today it’s close to ten percent. We have a pretty good idea of sea ice extent now, but as for the last major glaciation the debate rages on and it involves very important things like sea aurface temperatures, albedo and heat exchange, ocean-atmosphere gas interactions and biological productivity. Were the equatorial oceans as warm then as they are today? Or not? It makes a big difference and it’s still in doubt. There are a host of feedback mechanisms, positive and negative, that have to be doped out, including sea level changes and their effects on continental shelf productivity, hydrostatic pressure on hydrothermal vents, the oceanic and atmospheric circulations, etc. Let the games begin!

  42. Antarctica has hosted lush forests and vegetation in the past per an article 6/3/09 New Scientist (Nature was mentioned as a journal reference). Most people here probably know of this. According to other government funded research outlets, this planet has at times been completely free of ice (before automobiles existed). Since everyone knows this, they know the earth will keep changing anyway (which I do not assume it is to the extent they’re saying) but it takes thousands if not millions of years. Why can’t someone stop the whole global warming agenda by reminding people of the history of the planet? Someone needs to get this in front of the media 24/7.

  43. Holy cow, what is surprising about the benefits of a melting glacier for life? Have you tried to live under a glacier, whether you are a mammal or anything else?
    The only benefit of a glacier could be for animals like polar bears who love to swim in cold water but who want to return to a firm ground often. This could be fixed by giving them a few thousand big floating boats for a few thousand dollars each.
    Everything else would obviously be benefits. Unfortunately, don’t expect too much of this melt.

  44. So if I have understood correctly, there are positive outcomes to warming and glacial loss. Very interesting. This does not sound to me like the politically-correct outcome-based science current these days. Hope these pople are getting decent funding, their work looks particularly interesting.

  45. piquant adj. 1 agreeably pungent, sharp, or appetizing. 2 pleasantly stimulating to the mind.  piquancy n. [French piquer prick]
    pique —v. (piques, piqued, piquing) 1 wound the pride of, irritate. 2 arouse (curiosity, interest, etc.). —n. resentment; hurt pride. [French: related to *piquant]
    OED (which we treat as standard for engineering work over here)
    I guess Al’s curiosity in this topic will be peaking quite soon.

  46. If you look at the longest living tribes/populations on earth often the commonality is they water their food crops with glacial milk – the nutrient rich waters that run from glaciers

  47. I guess if you have a run of papers like this one, then if the cooling comes the next scare is ‘global cooling: HELP!’

  48. “Glaciers. Glaciers.
    Get your crunchy, nutritious glaciers.
    $50 a pound. Only $50 a pound.”
    [quieter] “Only $20 to you madam.”

  49. Crosspatch you are right that the terminus does not always reflect volume change above. That is why mass balance is the gold standard for glacier change. Global mass balance has been negative for the last 17 years running based on glaciers with 30 year records and all glaciers monitored. The glaciers with 30+ year records were not cherry picked as most were selected for or shortly after the 1957 IPY.
    http://www.geo.unizh.ch/wgms/
    We have measured the mass balance of the Lemon Creek Glacier, right near the Mendenhall Glacier for over 50 years and the trend is negative and it is retreating just as are all but one outlet glacier of the Juneau Icefield.
    http://www.nichols.edu/departments/Glacier/Lemon.html
    The exception is the Taku Glacier.
    What is more important is that we must observe the upper reaches of a glacier as well as the terminus. The upper reaches is the accumulation zone, income area, for the glacier, no accumulation zone, and a glacier will not survive.
    http://glacierchange.wordpress.com/2009/12/19/helm-glacier-melting-away/

  50. When I began work at age 15 as a rural contract labourer in New Zealand, one of the older Maori blokes who was teaching me how to build farm fences remarked during the early Autumn
    “Winter is going to be really wet this year – the ducks are nesting much higher than usual.”
    His forecast was right; we had a miserable winter with record floods.
    I remember much of the simple weather knowledge I learnt as a youth from men who had no knowledge of science but were wonderfully observant. Most of them could predict in broad terms with fair reliability – more accurate than our met service then – a season in advance and based many of their forcasts on a combination of 7-year weather cycles and the behaviour of wild life.
    And I really enjoy Grandpa Bear; this would make a wonderful children’s book, with suitable illustrations, as it is as relevant as anything Aesop ever wrote.

  51. Gosh, this gives me such a great idea. Take all the warmers, starting with Algore, lead them on a walk about across the glacial crevasse fields, and eventually they will really be contributing to carbon recycling!

  52. twawki (01:34:58) :
    If you look at the longest living tribes/populations on earth often the commonality is they water their food crops with glacial milk – the nutrient rich waters that run from glaciers.

    Say, does anyone know if there are dietary supplements containing such nutrients? I think I remember reading once about using fertilizers consisting of gravel dust.

  53. Some of the contributors have thoughtfully alerted us to another sortie from the collapsing fortress of the Globo-cops who want to panic us into doing what they want. Yes, it’s those melting glaciers again which will force us to climb aboard their Ark (but only two by two). They especially hate the science of ice, that is, glaciology, so let’s take a look at it.
    A Coast Guard icebreaker skipper I once knew wrote a book called “Ice Is Where You Find It”. Actually, it’s all around us. The “cryosphere” of frozen water interacts with the rest of the hydrosphere, the lithosphere, the atmosphere and the biosphere. It includes those photogenic valley glaciers that Mr. Gore likes to pose next to as if it were a crime scene, but they are a very small part of the picture. There are snowfields, icefields, ice caps, ice sheets (including Antarctica, which even James Hansen admits is getting colder in parts) ice shelves, lake and sea ice (that in the Antarctic is inconveniently expanding), river ice, permafrost (terrestrial and submarine), and the many forms of atmospheric ice. The latter include snow, hail, sleet, freezing rain, ice fog, and those beautiful cirrus clouds overhead. Much of our ordinary rain starts as ice crystals (the Bergeron process). If you are heading into an ice storm, a common occurrence lately, it would be advisable to have a glaciologist with you rather than Mr. Gore or Dr. Hansen.
    Where is most of the ice? About 96 percent of the glaciated area (even more of the actual volume of ice) is in the polar ice sheets, and most of that is in the stable East Antarctic region. About 0.8 percent is in central Asia (Hindu Kush – anyone checking the Afghan glaciers lately, between fire fights?- Karakorum, Himalayas, Tien Shan, Pamir, etc.); and about 0.3 percent is in Alaska, including the Mendenhall Glacier in the story above.
    Of course, these glaciers are only a part of the cryosphere and it is a part of the hydrosphere, which runs continuously through the complex dynamics of the hydrologic cycle.

Comments are closed.