Loss of Snow Cover on Svalbard Glaciers Accelerated Loss Since the mid-1980s.

Nature Communications, September 14 Most of Svalbard’s glaciers and ice caps have lost the porous snow layer that previously protected them from yearly temperature fluctuations. This snow layer was lost below a critical altitude of 450 meters already in the 1980s, which rendered 60% of Svalbard’s ice highly vulnerable to further warming; starting a period […]

Warmer Atlantic and More Storms Decrease Sea Ice North of Svalbard

Journal of Geophysical Research, July 11 On the other side of the Arctic, an earlier study this summer found that winter storms and warm near‐surface Atlantic water appear directly responsible for winter sea ice loss in the Whalers Bay area north of Svalbard.  The amount of heat transported from the Atlantic Ocean, and storm frequency both […]

2018 Bering Sea Winter Sea Ice Lowest in At Least 5500 Years

Science Advances, September 2 Summer sea ice minimums receive the most attention; but Arctic sea ice has been declining year-round, and new reconstructions place the 2018 winter maximum in the Bering Sea as the lowest in at least 5500 years.  The 2018 and 2019 maximums were also 60-70% lower than the averages recorded since consistent […]

Large Reduction in Glaciers Under High Emissions Scenario in Central Himalayas

Journal of Glaciology, August 26 Up to 85% of the glaciers found in the Koshi River Basin could disappear by 2100 under the highest emission scenarios (RCP8.5). The Koshi River, a major tributary of the Ganges has a 50,000 km2 basin (the size of Costa Rica).  Over 5% is covered by glaciers, and spreads across India, Nepal, […]

2020 Arctic Fires Already One-third Higher Than 2019 Record High

Copernicus Atmosphere Monitoring Service, September 3 Arctic fire emissions – those directly caused by humans, as well as those from natural phenomena such as lightning strikes – already are one-third higher than the 2019 total, which itself broke the previous record.  The CO2 released from these fires through the end of August totalled around 244 […]

Majority of Antarctic Ice Shelves Sensitive to Meltwater Fracturing

Nature, August 26 Antarctic ice shelves – floating ice in contact with land ice – are both critical to maintaining ice sheet stability, and vulnerable to catastrophic fracturing from meltwater entering crevasses. Hydro-fracturing occurs when surface meltwater flows into and deepens pre-existing fractures, and is a potential mechanism driving sudden ice shelf collapse, as occurred with […]

Massive Amounts of Ice Loss in the Cryosphere

The Cryosphere Discussion/Review, August 14 A paper placed in open review notes that the cryosphere globally has lost a total of 28 trillion tonnes of ice (28,000 Gt) in the past 23 years, with a significant acceleration of mass loss since the year 2000. The largest losses have occurred to (in approximate order) Arctic sea […]

Unexpected Basal Ocean Melting in East Antarctica

Nature Communications, August 24 The floating Shirase Ice Tongue (a long and narrow projection of ice, connected an ice basin about the size of the United Kingdom) in Queen Maud Land, East Antarctica, has revealed surprisingly high basal melt rates of 7 to 16 m per year. These rates equal or surpass the melting rate underneath […]

Satellite Data Confirms Accelerating Greenland Ice Sheet Loss

Nature, August 20   The Greenland Ice Sheet lost a record-breaking 532 (± 58 Gt) of ice in 2019, up around 200 Gt in the early 2000s, when it first became clear that the ice sheet was losing mass. The two GRACE satellite missions also provided new insights on the sensitivity of the Greenland Ice Sheet to climate-related changes in […]

Ice Mass Loss from Greenland Will Continue Even After Stabilized

Nature, Communications Earth & Environment, August 13 Acceleration of outlet glaciers from the Greenland ice sheet, not compensated by accumulation above makes it the current largest contributor to sea level rise. Through the 1980s and 1990s, losses through iceberg calving and melting were replaced by snowfall, keeping the ice sheet in balance. However, starting in […]

Basal Melting of Antarctic Ice Shelves

Nature Geoscience, August 10 Between 1994 and 2018, Antarctic ice shelves (floating ice connected to the land-based Antarctic ice sheet) lost close to 3960 Gt of ice. Many ice shelves bordering Antarctica lose mass through ocean-driven melting at their base. This study builds on previous work by using higher density satellite radar measurements, enabling far […]

Emissions from Thawing Peatland Permafrost 30-50% Greater than Previous Estimates

Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, August 10 Under high emissions scenarios, northern hemisphere permafrost and peatlands will show a 30-50% greater contribution to warming than previously projected, with emissions impacts equivalent to 1% of all anthropogenic radiative forcing this century – and this takes into account both peatland carbon uptake and permafrost thaw […]

Arctic Sea Ice More Sensitive to Emissions: Ice-Free Arctic During Last Interglacial Points to Rapid Future Loss

Nature Climate Change, August 10 The Arctic Ocean could be seasonally ice-free at temperatures only slightly above today’s, once land-based Arctic summer temperatures average 4 to 5°C above pre-industrial. This would occur by summer 2035 under high emissions scenarios; parts of the Arctic were already far warmer this summer. These new simulations using CMIP6, by […]

Emissions To-date Consistent with Worst-Case Scenario for Global Warming

Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, August 3 Despite recent progress on bending the emissions curve and the global pandemic, cumulative CO2 emissions measured between 2005 and 2020 place us on track (within 1%) of RCP8.5, the most aggressive scenario in assumed fossil fuel use. Between 2030 and 2050, human CO2 emissions will likely […]

Loss of Outdoor Ice Skating in Coming Decades

The Canadian Geographer, July 16 Outdoor ice-skating is an important cultural pastime in many northern regions and holds a firm foothold in North American identity. Using citizen science data collected in six cities across Canada and the US, researchers estimated backyard skating conditions in past winters for which historical observations do not exist. They found […]

First Active Methane Leak Observed off Antarctica

Proceedings of the Royal Society B, July 22. A team of scientists has discovered the first active leak of methane through the Antarctic seafloor, in the Ross Sea. Researchers monitored microbial communities that can consume the greenhouse gas before it reaches the atmosphere, and therefore play an important role within the methane cycle. Their work reveals […]

South Pole Warming Three Times the Global Average

Nature Climate Change, June 29. Surface air temperatures at the South Pole over the past 30 years, as measured at the Scott-Amundsen station and across the Antarctic plateau, reached record-high warming levels of 0.61 ± 0.34 °C per decade, more than three times the global average. Scientists found that stronger low-pressure systems in the Weddell Sea carry warmer […]

East Antarctic Ice Sheet Vulnerable to Melting Within Paris 2°C Goal

Nature, July 22 Large sections of the massive Wilkes Basin ice sheet of East Antarctica, holding 3-4 meters of SLR collapsed only 400,000 years ago, retreating over 700 km inland from the current ice margin – dispelling theories that it had been stable for millions of years. This glacial retreat, measured through traces of uranium-234 in […]