A Closer Look at Greenland’s Ice Sheet Margins and Glacier Outlets

Journal of Geophysical Research – Earth Surface, October 27 Over the past three decades, the Greenland Ice Sheet ice transitioned from near balance to rapid mass loss, due to increasing temperatures in the atmosphere and ocean. For the outlet glaciers of Greenland, feeding into the oceans, multiple factors affect the behavior of individual glaciers and […]

Agricultural Irrigation in NW China Creates Unexpected Glacier Growth in Western Himalayas

The Cryosphere, September 24 While most glaciers are losing mass, the Kunlun Shan and Karakoram mountain range contains glaciers that are stable or growing due to increased snowfall, linked in this study to extensive agricultural irrigation in the Tamir and Junggar Basins.  Greater rates of evapotranspiration from plants in these irrigated lowlands lead to increases in […]

Reduced Biodiversity in the Arctic with Higher Sea Ice Loss

Nature Climate Change, October 27   If higher human greenhouse gas emissions continue, greater loss of Arctic sea ice will significantly reduce many species in the Arctic.  Lower sea ice coverage results in more light availability in these increasingly open-ocean conditions, favoring the growth of more southerly forms and even blooms of phytoplankton and zooplankton, […]

Arctic Sea Ice Building Stalls to Record Low for October

Arctic sea ice, normally growing rapidly at this time of year post-sundown, has stalled.  Extent is currently 1.2 million square kilometers lower than the 2012 record low season, which had recovered to 6.6 million square kilometers by this point in the fall season; 2019, the third-lowest summer extent, also saw an unusually low recovery path. […]

Warming of the Arctic Ocean and Nearby Seas

Global and Planetary Change, October 1 From 1982 to 2018, the Arctic Ocean and its surrounding seas have warmed by 1.3°C, with the greatest rate of warming occurring during the summer months, at +0.03°C/yr. The Greenland, Norwegian, Barents, and Chukchi Seas experienced the strongest warming due to incursion of warming waters from the mid-latitudes of […]

Worldwide Decline in Snow Accumulation and Duration

Environmental Research Letters, October 14   Snow cover and duration has declined worldwide over the past three decades due to the rise in global mean temperature.  Snowpack in the mid-latitudes and at lower altitudes — especially in the southern and south-eastern parts of the Himalayas; Iberian Peninsula; southern Andes; Drakensberg Range in South Africa; New Zealand; […]

Integrating Risks of Water Scarcity and Glacier Lake Outburst Floods in Peruvian Andes

Geoenvironmental Disasters, September 23 Towns and rural populations near the rapidly deglaciating Andes in Peru are threatened by both glacier lake outburst floods (GLOFs), and reduced water availability that will be heightened under a high emission scenario; however these two risks are rarely examined together.  This interdisciplinary study found glacier meltwater an important source of […]

Overlooked VOC Emissions from Thawing Arctic Permafrost May Increase Warming and Pollution

Environmental Research Letters, October 12 In thawing permafrost peatland soils studied in Finland, emissions of volatile organic compounds (VOCs, including alcohols, acids, ethers, and aldehydes) doubled when temperatures increased from 0 to 5°C.  Such VOCs help form tropospheric ozone, which contributes to both air pollution and global warming.  Under high emissions scenarios, more than 40% […]

Past Andean Drought and Glacial Retreat Tied to Abrupt Warming in the Arctic

Nature Communications, October 12   Past abrupt warming periods in the Arctic were related to near-complete disappearance of glaciers in the tropical Andes up to around 4,700 meters.  Arctic warming caused changes in ocean currents that then altered inter-hemispheric heat distribution: weakening the South American summer monsoons, as reflected in sediment records of Andean lakes […]

Dust Darkens/Melts Snow at High Mountain Altitudes in Asia, Soot Dominates Lower Down

Nature, October 5 Dust carried by winds from the Middle East and Africa and deposited on snow is now the leading factor in snow melt at higher elevations (above 4000 m) in Central Asia and the Himalayan Plateau, playing a much bigger role on water resources than previously documented. Below 4000 m, the deposition of […]

Year-round Disappearance of Arctic Sea Ice Before 2100 Under New High Emissions Scenarios

Environmental Research Letters, October 7   The Arctic Ocean will reach an essentially ice-free state year-round (i.e., fully navigable) under the new high emissions scenarios developed for IPCC AR6.  This ice-free state will occur once global temperatures average 4.5°C above pre-industrial, which occurs well before 2100 in nearly all these new emissions scenarios based on […]

Ice-rich Permafrost Fuels Arctic Fires

Nature Geoscience commentary, September 28 More than half of 2020’s Arctic fires so far this year have occurred in ice-rich permafrost. Formerly thought to be “fire resistant”, these ecosystems also contain the most carbon-rich soils in the Arctic, and are increasingly vulnerable to burning. The thawing, drying, and burning of ice-rich permafrost can considerably increase […]

Greenland Ice Loss Rate On Track to Exceed Holocene (End of Last Ice Age)

Nature, September 30 Between 2000-2018, the Greenland Ice Sheet lost ice mass at the rate of 6100 billion tons of ice per century, exceeding the maximum rates at the end of the last Ice Age (the Holocene) 12,000 years ago, at 6000 billion tons/century. Under high-emissions scenarios, Greenland could lose up to 35,900 billion tonnes […]

Glacier Mass Loss Doubles in Easternmost Tian Shan Since 1972

Journal of Glaciology, Sept 23 Glacier mass loss has doubled in the Tian Shan mountains of eastern Central Asia, known as the region’s “Water Towers”.  This accelerated mass loss, in the glacierized Karlik range of the Tian Shan, between 2000-2015 as compared to 1972-2000 is associated with “dramatic” regional warming; and directly impacts water resources […]

Mercury Emissions From Permafrost Thaw Could Make Yukon River Fish Inedible

Nature Communications, September 16 Under high emissions scenarios, additional permafrost thaw would drastically increase mercury concentrations in the Yukon River.  This could cause Yukon fish stocks to exceed U.S. EPA health guidelines within the next 30 years; and annual permafrost mercury emissions to the atmosphere would also increase, and be comparable to current global human […]