Snow and Avalanches

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  • Wintertime arctic sea ice growth slows long-term decline
    on December 6, 2018 at 4:47 pm

    New research has found that increases in the rate at which Arctic sea ice grows in the winter may have partially slowed down the decline of the Arctic sea ice cover. […]

  • Greenland ice sheet melt 'off the charts' compared with past four centuries
    on December 5, 2018 at 6:39 pm

    Surface melting across Greenland's mile-thick ice sheet began increasing in the mid-19th century and then ramped up dramatically during the 20th and early 21st centuries, showing no signs of abating, according to new research. […]

  • Snowpack declines may stunt tree growth and forests' ability to store carbon emissions
    on December 1, 2018 at 5:06 pm

    Researchers conducting a 5-year-long study examining snow cover in a northern hardwood forest region found that projected changes in climate could lead to a 95 percent reduction of deep-insulating snowpack in forest areas across the northeastern United States by the end of the 21st century. The loss of snowpack would likely result in a steep reduction of forests' ability to store climate-changing carbon dioxide and filter pollutants from the air and water. […]

  • Quirky glacial behavior explained
    on November 29, 2018 at 8:38 pm

    In August 2012, the Jakobshavn Glacier was flowing and breaking off into the sea at record speeds, three times faster than in previous years. As the glacier flowed faster, it became thinner and more unstable and in a twist, a pileup of thick ice replenished the glacier's terminus, slowing it down again. New work explaining the fast-then-slow movement of Jakobshavn may help scientists better predict how tidewater glaciers contribute to sea level rise. […]

  • A fresh look at winter footprints: Environmental DNA improves tracking of rare carnivores
    on November 27, 2018 at 4:10 pm

    A new project shows that animal footprints contain enough DNA for species identification. The study extracted DNA from snow samples collected within animal tracks and applied newly developed molecular genetic assays. The assays positively detected the DNA of each species, outperforming traditional lab techniques on previously undetectable genetic samples. This method could revolutionize winter surveys of rare species by greatly reducing or eliminating misidentifications and missed detections. […]

  • Is Antarctica becoming more like Greenland?
    on November 20, 2018 at 5:58 pm

    Antarctica is high and dry and mostly bitterly cold, and it's easy to think of its ice and snow as locked away in a freezer, protected from melt except around its low-lying coasts and floating ice shelves. But that view may be wrong. […]

  • Massive impact crater from a kilometer-wide iron meteorite discovered in Greenland
    on November 14, 2018 at 9:00 pm

    An international team has discovered a 31-km wide meteorite impact crater buried beneath the ice-sheet in the northern Greenland. This is the first time that a crater of any size has been found under one of Earth's continental ice sheets. […]

  • First tally of US-Russia polar bears finds a healthy population
    on November 14, 2018 at 7:43 pm

    The first scientific assessment of polar bears that live in the Chukchi Sea region that spans the US and Russia finds the population is healthy and does not yet appear to be suffering from declining sea ice. […]

  • Middle Eastern desert dust on the Tibetan plateau could affect the Indian summer monsoon
    on November 14, 2018 at 5:01 pm

    Large quantities dust from the deserts of the Middle East can settle on the Tibetan Plateau, darkening the region's snowpack and accelerating snow melt. A new atmospheric modeling study suggests that, in some years, heavy springtime dust deposition can set off a series of feedbacks that intensify the Indian summer monsoon. The findings could explain a correlation between Tibetan snowpack and the Indian monsoon first observed by British meteorologist Henry Blanford in 1884. […]

  • Arctic sea ice: Simulation versus observation
    on November 13, 2018 at 4:03 pm

    As an indicator of the impacts of climate change, Arctic sea ice is hard to beat. Scientists have observed the frozen polar ocean advance and retreat at this most sensitive region of the Earth over decades for insight on the potential ripple effects on assorted natural systems: global ocean circulation, surrounding habitats and ecosystems, food sources, sea levels and more. […]

  • Far fewer lakes below the East Antarctic Ice Sheet than previously believed
    on November 7, 2018 at 3:36 pm

    Researchers recently assessed subglacial lakes detected by satellite, and found very little water. But if that's the case, what is the source of the East Antarctic Ice Sheet's massive ice streams? […]

  • Investigating glaciers in depth
    on October 24, 2018 at 1:53 pm

    Global sea level is rising constantly. One factor contributing to this rise is the melting of the glaciers. However, although the surface area of the glaciers has been well mapped, there is often no information regarding their thickness, making it impossible to calculate their volume. As a result, we cannot accurately calculate the effects on sea levels. Researchers have developed an approach which can be used to draw up regional ice thickness maps for glaciers. […]

  • Changes in snow coverage threatens biodiversity of Arctic nature
    on October 23, 2018 at 3:06 pm

    Many of the plants inhabiting northern mountains depend on the snow cover lingering until late spring or summer. Snow provides shelter for plants from winter-time extreme events but at the same time it shortens the length of growing season, which prevents the establishment of more southern plants. This is why the reduced snow cover may be an even larger threat to the Arctic plants than rising temperatures. […]

  • Arctic greening thaws permafrost, boosts runoff
    on October 17, 2018 at 9:28 pm

    A new collaborative study has investigated Arctic shrub-snow interactions to obtain a better understanding of the far north's tundra and vast permafrost system. Incorporating extensive in situ observations, scientists tested their theories with a novel 3D computer model and confirmed that shrubs can lead to significant degradation of the permafrost layer that has remained frozen for tens of thousands of years. These interactions are driving increases in discharges of fresh water into rivers, lakes and oceans. […]

  • Antarctic ice shelf 'sings' as winds whip across its surface
    on October 16, 2018 at 7:06 pm

    Winds blowing across snow dunes on Antarctica's Ross Ice Shelf cause the massive ice slab's surface to vibrate, producing a near-constant set of seismic 'tones' scientists could potentially use to monitor changes in the ice shelf from afar, according to new research. […]

  • Scientists find missing piece in glacier melt predictions
    on October 15, 2018 at 2:05 pm

    A new method for observing water within ice has revealed stored meltwater that may explain the complex flow behavior of some Greenland glaciers, an important component for predicting sea-level rise in a changing climate. […]

  • Changes in polar jet circulation bring more dust from Sahara Desert to the Arctic
    on October 10, 2018 at 2:56 pm

    Poleward transport of warm, moist, and dust-laden air masses from the Sahara Desert results in ice melting in southeast Greenland, scientists have found. […]

  • Rapid, widespread changes may be coming to Antarctica's Dry Valleys
    on October 9, 2018 at 5:58 pm

    Antarctica's sandy polar desert, the McMurdo Dry Valleys, has undergone changes over the past decade and the recent discovery of thawing permafrost, thinning glaciers and melting ground ice by a research team are signs that rapid and widespread change could be on the horizon. […]

  • Lilly Pilly fossils reveal snowless Snowy Mountains
    on October 3, 2018 at 2:27 pm

    Leaf fossils discovered high in Australia's Snowy Mountains have revealed a past history of warmer rainforest vegetation and a lack of snow, in contrast with the alpine vegetation and winter snow-covered slopes of today. […]

  • 2018 Arctic summertime sea ice minimum extent tied for sixth lowest on record
    on September 27, 2018 at 4:29 pm

    Arctic sea ice likely reached its 2018 lowest extent on Sept. 19 and again on Sept. 23, 2018. Analysis of satellite data showed that, at 1.77 million square miles (4.59 million square kilometers), 2018 effectively tied with 2008 and 2010 for the sixth lowest summertime minimum extent in the satellite record. […]

  • Taller plants moving into Arctic because of climate change
    on September 26, 2018 at 6:08 pm

    The effects of climate change are behind an increase in plant height across the Arctic tundra over the past 30 years. […]

  • Retracing Antarctica's glacial past
    on September 25, 2018 at 6:04 pm

    More than 26,000 years ago, sea level was much lower than it is today partly because the ice sheets that jut out from the continent of Antarctica were enormous and covered by grounded ice -- ice that was fully attached to the seafloor. As the planet warmed, the ice sheets melted and contracted, and sea level began to rise. Researchers have discovered new information that illuminates how and when this global phenomenon occurred. […]

  • Extra Arctic observations can improve predictability of tropical cyclones
    on September 21, 2018 at 1:24 pm

    Scientists have found that additional weather observations in the Arctic can help predict the track and intensity of tropical and mid-latitude cyclones more accurately, improving weather forecasting of extreme weather events. […]

  • Glacial engineering could limit sea-level rise, if we get our emissions under control
    on September 20, 2018 at 2:21 pm

    Targeted engineering projects to hold off glacier melting could slow down ice-sheet collapse and limit sea-level rise, according to a new study. While an intervention similar in size to existing large civil engineering projects could only have a 30 percent chance of success, a larger project would have better odds of holding off ice-sheet collapse. But the researchers caution that reducing emissions still remains key to stopping climate change and its dramatic effects. […]

  • Scientists identify three causes of Earth's spin axis drift
    on September 19, 2018 at 11:59 pm

    Using observational and model-based data spanning the entire 20th century, scientists have for the first time have identified three broadly-categorized processes responsible for Earth's spin axis drift -- contemporary mass loss primarily in Greenland, glacial rebound, and mantle convection. […]

  • Unprecedented ice loss in Russian ice cap
    on September 19, 2018 at 6:49 pm

    In the last few years, the Vavilov Ice Cap in the Russian High Arctic has dramatically accelerated, sliding as much as 82 feet a day in 2015, according to a new multi-national, multi-institute study. That dwarfs the ice's previous average speed of about 2 inches per day and has challenged scientists' assumptions about the stability of the cold ice caps dotting Earth's high latitudes. […]

  • Moderate warming could melt East Antarctic Ice Sheet
    on September 19, 2018 at 5:30 pm

    Parts of the world's largest ice sheet would melt if Antarctic warming of just 2°C is sustained for millennia, according to international research. Scientists used evidence from warm periods in Earth's history to see how the East Antarctic Ice Sheet might react to a warming climate. […]

  • Volcano under ice sheet suggests thickening of West Antarctic ice is short-term
    on September 6, 2018 at 2:04 pm

    Evidence left by a volcano under the ice sheet suggests that the observed bulging of ice in West Antarctica is a short-term feature that may not affect the glacier's motion over the long term. […]

  • California: Global warming, El Niño could cause wetter winters, drier conditions in other months
    on September 4, 2018 at 7:04 pm

    New research indicates that what future precipitation California gets will be pretty much limited to the winter months -- think deluge-type rainfall rather than snow -- and non-winter months will be even dryer than usual, with little or no rain at all. […]

  • New way to see dirty underside of glaciers
    on September 4, 2018 at 3:47 pm

    Accurate projections of sea level rise require sophisticated models for glacier flow, but current approaches do a poor job capturing the physical processes that control how fast glaciers slide over sediments, according to researchers. In a new study, they've proposed a theoretical approach that sheds light on the dirty, dark undersides of glaciers and improve the modeling of ice flow. […]