Ice Melt


Let NASA explain this!

From NASA:

Using satellite measurements from the NASA/German Aerospace Center Gravity Recovery and Climate Experiment (GRACE), the researchers measured ice loss in all of Earth’s land ice between 2003 and 2010, with particular emphasis on glaciers and ice caps outside of Greenland and Antarctica.

The total global ice mass lost from Greenland, Antarctica and Earth’s glaciers and ice caps during the study period was about 4.3 trillion tons (1,000 cubic miles), adding about 0.5 inches (12 millimeters) to global sea level.  That’s enough ice to cover the United States 1.5 feet (0.5 meters) deep.

“Earth is losing a huge amount of ice to the ocean annually, and these new results will help us answer important questions in terms of both sea rise and how the planet’s cold regions are responding to global change,” said University of Colorado Boulder physics professor John Wahr, who helped lead the study.  “The strength of GRACE is it sees all the mass in the system, even though its resolution is not high enough to allow us to determine separate contributions from each individual glacier.”

About a quarter of the average annual ice loss came from glaciers and ice caps outside of Greenland and Antarctica (roughly 148 billion tons, or 39 cubic miles).  Ice loss from Greenland and Antarctica and their peripheral ice caps and glaciers averaged 385 billion tons (100 cubic miles) a year. Results of the study will be published online Feb. 8 in the journal Nature.

Traditional estimates of Earth’s ice caps and glaciers have been made using ground measurements from relatively few glaciers to infer what all the world’s unmonitored glaciers were doing.  Only a few hundred of the roughly 200,000 glaciers worldwide have been monitored for longer than a decade.

One unexpected study result from GRACE was that the estimated ice loss from high Asian mountain ranges like the Himalaya, the Pamir and the Tien Shan was only about 4 billion tons of ice annually.  Some previous ground-based estimates of ice loss in these high Asian mountains have ranged up to 50 billion tons annually.

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Wilkins Ice Shelf

“I’ve never seen anything like this before — it was awesome. We flew along the main crack and observed the sheer scale of movement from the breakage. Big hefty chunks of ice, the size of small houses, look as though they’ve been thrown around like rubble — it’s like an explosion.”

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Geophysical Research

From: JOURNAL OF GEOPHYSICAL RESEARCH

JGR Oceans

Observed sea ice extent in the Russian Arctic, 1933–2006: 

We present a time series of sea ice extent in the Russian Arctic based on observational sea ice charts compiled by the Arctic and Antarctic Research Institute (AARI).  These charts are perhaps the oldest operational sea ice data in existence and show that sea ice extent in the Russian Arctic has generally decreased since the beginning of the chart series in 1933.  This retreat has not been continuous, however.  For the Russian Arctic as a whole in summer, there have been two periods of retreat separated by a partial recovery between the mid-1950s and mid-1980s.

The AARI charts, combined with air temperature records, suggest that the retreat in recent decades is pan-Arctic and year-round in some regions, whereas the early twentieth century retreat was only observed in summer in the Russian Arctic.  The AARI ice charts indicate that a significant transition occurred in the Russian Arctic in the mid-1980s, when its sea ice cover began to retreat along with that of the rest of the Arctic.

Cutter Healy

Ice may be retreating but Nome Alaska along with Russia and Europe are experiencing record cold and snow since a 100 years ago.  The Russia Tanker Renda was cut out of the ice 110 miles south of Nome.  The Coast Guard Cutter Healy conducting the escort of the tanker vessel Renda on a mission to deliver fuel and prevent a potential energy crisis in Nome, Alaska.  At some point I’m sure the Northern routes will open to more shipping lanes and drilling for oil but I would not mothball The Cutters’ just yet!

 

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