Global Emissions Dictate Rate of Unavoidable Sea Level Rise from Major West Antarctic Glaciers

The Cryosphere, 3 June 2024 A new model incorporating the latest ice-ocean interactions projects that future stability of West Antarctica’s massive Thwaites Glacier relies on small “pinning points” where it rests on the bedrock. The speed at which increasingly warm ocean waters erode these pinning points will play an important role in determining the future […]

Local Extinction of Polar Bears in Canada’s Hudson Bay if Global Warming Exceeds 2°C

Communications Earth & Environment, 13 June 2024 The Hudson Bay polar bear population, comprising three of the world’s 19 remaining groups (about 4000 individuals), will go locally extinct in the next few decades if today’s emissions continue, a study this week found. This is due to projected loss not only of sea ice extent, but […]

COP28 Video of the Week: “Critical Thresholds of Arctic Climate”

The Arctic is currently warming up to four times faster than the rest of the planet. Rapidly disappearing Arctic sea ice impacts weather systems across America, Europe and Asia, generating frequent and more powerful extreme events than ever observed before. Critical thresholds are likely to be passed if the global warming exceeds 1.5C, impacting the […]

Warm Seawater Under Thwaites Could Bring Faster Sea Level Rise

Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 20 May 2024 Seawater pulses from tides moving beneath the vulnerable Thwaites Glacier has created a 6-kilometer zone where warm water repeatedly flows underneath the ice, speeding up melting. This tidal pulsing has increased the glacier’s instability, and therefore the rate at which it contributes to global sea-level […]

Fossil Fuel Emissions Named as Key Driver of Vanishing Antarctic Sea Ice

Geophysical Research Letters, 20 May 2024 Antarctic sea ice reached historically low levels in 2023, with over 2 million square kilometers less ice than usual during winter. This study is one of the first to directly link fossil fuel emissions with that sharp decline in Antarctic sea ice. In terms of probability, the record-breaking low […]

Global Assessment Highlights Increasing Risks of Glacial Lake Outburst Floods

Nature Reviews Earth & Environment, 21 May 2024 This review paper maps the global distribution of glacial lakes, consolidating historical trends of sudden outburst flooding to predict future hazards and associated risks in each region. More than 3,000 glacial lake outburst floods (GLOFs) have occurred during the past thousand years, particularly in High Mountain Asia, […]

COP28 Video of the Week: “Multiple Threats to Polar Oceans”

The Arctic and Southern Oceans are under serious threat from warming, acidification, freshening, and ice loss. These changes are already visible today and have growing impacts on food webs, ecosystems, fisheries, and global weather patterns. This session draws attention to the societal and political impacts of fossil fuel emissions, emphasizing the importance of 1.5°C. Speakers […]

Two-Thirds of Iconic Mount Everest Glacier Would Disappear by 2100 with High Emissions

AGU Journals: Earth’s Future, 26 April 2024 The iconic East Rongbuk Glacier on Mount Everest’s north slope might lose two-thirds of its ice volume by the end of the century under high emissions, but global temperatures remaining below 1.5°C could allow more than half of its ice to survive past 2100. Glaciers in the Rongbuk […]

Rising Methane Emissions from Retreating Glaciers: From Greenland to Alaska’s Mountains

Scientific Reports, 9 May 2024 Small mountain glaciers in Alaska release high levels of methane gas in their meltwater runoff, unleashing previously frozen methane stores as the ice retreats. Similar studies have documented such methane release from glaciers across Greenland, Svalbard, and Iceland; adding to this knowledge base, new observations make clear that retreating small […]

COP28 Video of the Week: “Climate-driven Methane Emissions in the High Arctic”

Dr. Gabrielle Kleber, an Early Career Scientist at the COP28 Cryosphere Pavilion, published a major paper in July 2023 on methane emissions from groundwaters that are released as glaciers retreat. She helped identify a positive feedback loop not currently considered in climate models, in which climate-driven glacial melt releases ancient methane in the high Arctic, […]

Low Emissions Key to Limiting Sea-level Rise from West Antarctica

Nature Communications, 23 April 2024 Weakened deep ocean mixing and sea ice loss could tip currently stable regions of West Antarctica across a threshold into extensive retreat for thousands of years, and this outcome can only be avoided with steep cuts in carbon emissions. This study unravels past ice sheet behavior to predict how it […]

Melting Ice Shelves Trigger Relentless Cycle of West Antarctic Ice Loss

Science Advances, 17 April 24 Researchers have identified a new positive feedback loop that intensifies ice shelf loss, suggesting that the West Antarctic Ice Sheet is more vulnerable to temperature rise than previously expected. The feedback loop is self-reinforcing: increased ice shelf melting produces more freshwater, strengthening the undercurrent transporting warm water toward the ice […]

COP28 Video of the Week: “Supporting Youth Through Effective Climate Education Policies”

Melting ice has long been a clear visual of our planet’s health. This event addressed the need for effective climate change education policies to increase cryosphere literacy, and showcased successful initiatives that equip youth with the tools they need to mitigate the feeling of eco-anxiety and empower them to become agents of change for a […]

Current and Future Emissions Determine Whether Subsea Arctic Permafrost Remains

Nature Communications, 15 April 2024 The level of future fossil fuel emissions will have a huge impact on whether “subsea” permafrost submerged along Arctic coastlines enters irreversible thaw, emitting its stored carbon, or remains fixed in its current frozen state. Continued high emissions along the lines of today’s will trigger rapid, irreversible acceleration of subsea […]