Author Archives: Pam Pearson

Rising Temperatures Strengthen Ocean Currents and Threaten Ice Shelves in West Antarctica

The Cryosphere, September 1 Rising global temperatures are accelerating melt at the base of ice shelves in West Antarctica, sending large quantities of freshwater into the surrounding ocean (although not raising sea levels, since ice shelves already rest on water). This influx of freshwater creates a buoyant upper layer of water that compresses the deeper […]

Meltwater and Changing Winds Destabilizing the Antarctic Peninsula

The Cryosphere, September 8 Ice loss from the Antarctic Peninsula has accelerated over the past four decades. Two main factors, meltwater and wind circulation, appear to be destabilizing glaciers in this region, in addition to rapid warming (for much of this period, the Peninsula was the fastest-warming place on Earth). First, water from melting snow […]

Increase in Glacier Melt with Rising Temperatures in North Greenland

The Cryosphere, August 24 Since the 1980s, ice loss from the Greenland Ice Sheet has increased six-fold. The Ryder Glacier, one of the four major glaciers in North Greenland, extends into the water between two steep walls of rock before discharging ice and meltwater into the Arctic Ocean. From about 6,000-11,000 years ago, Arctic summer […]

Warming Similar to Today Triggered Collapse of the West Antarctic Ice Sheet

Scientific Reports, August 19 During the Last Inter-Glacial (LIG, between ice ages) 125,000 years ago, ocean temperatures rose 1.5-2°C above pre-industrial levels. Ice loss accelerated across the West Antarctic Ice Sheet (WAIS), with ice melt and fracturing near the Amundsen Sea contributing 4 meters to sea-level rise. East Antarctica was less affected, and the Wilkes […]

Greater Precipitation and Meltwater Reduce Nutrient Availability in the Arctic Ocean

Nature Geoscience, August 16 In the western and central Arctic Ocean, distinct layers of ocean water – based on their temperature, salt content and depth – are becoming increasingly divided or “stratified.” This is because rising global temperatures cause an increase in precipitation, river discharge, and glacial melt into the Arctic Ocean. This influx of […]

Extreme Losses of Patagonia’s Glaciers May Slow With Lower Emissions

Scientific Reports, August 19 The glaciers of the Southern Andes, in Patagonia are extremely sensitive to surface melting, and have thinned rapidly over the past century of global warming. Patagonia contains two massive icefields, filled with interconnected glaciers that extend for hundreds of kilometers. They are the second largest continental icefields outside of the polar […]

Arctic Meltwater and Rising Ocean Temperatures Threaten the Stability of Atlantic Circulation

Nature Climate Change, August 5 The Atlantic Ocean’s major circulation system could be approaching a critical threshold. It is exhibiting two early-warning signs of collapse: rising surface temperatures, and decreasing salinity. Higher air and ocean temperatures have accelerated glacier melt and ice loss around the world, particularly in the Arctic. Rapid melt of Arctic glaciers […]

Decline in Plankton Diversity with Reduced Sea Ice Extent in West Antarctica

Nature Communications, August 16 Rising temperatures and the loss of sea ice threatens the future of carbon-consuming plankton in Antarctic coastal waters. Over the past 70 years, the western Antarctic Peninsula has exhibited some of the most significant changes in the Southern Ocean, with air temperatures increasing up to 7°C and sea ice decreasing faster […]

Rain Falls for First Time on Record at Greenland’s Highest Point

NSIDC, August 18 Rain was observed at the highest point of the Greenland Ice Sheet for several hours on August 14, with air temperatures above freezing for about nine hours total. There is no previous report of rainfall occurring at this location, which reaches 3,216 meters (10,551 feet) in elevation. This was also the latest […]

Velocity of Outlet Glaciers Plays Pivotal Role in Ice Loss from Greenland Ice Sheet

Journal of Glaciology, August 3 The velocity of outlet (or peripheral) glaciers greatly influences the rate of ice loss from the Greenland Ice Sheet. During late spring, the onset of surface melt prompts most glaciers in the colder, northern regions of Greenland to speed up for several weeks, before abruptly slowing to previous speeds as […]