GlacierHub’s Video of the Week features footage of a flowing piedmont glacier on Ellesmere Island, which lies in the Canadian Arctic territory of Nunavut. The animated images, posted on Twitter by glaciologist Jakub Małecki, give the impression of a glacier in graceful motion.
Much of Ellesmere Island is covered by glaciers and ice sheets. Research published in 2016 in the journal Geophysical Research Lettersfound that ice mass on the island—and across the Canadian Arctic Archipelago—has decreased dramatically in recent years.
Melting land ice, such as from Ellesmere Island’s glaciers, contributes to sea level rise, which threatens some of the world’s most populated and economically valuable cities.
Christopher Harig, an author on the 2016 study, told GlacierHub: “Worldwide, on the order of 500 million people could be directly impacted by rising sea level by the end of this century. The human impact is combined with a large financial impact as well. So regardless of where people live, I think the impacts of ice loss and sea level rise will be easily seen in the future.”
From Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences: Antarctica’s ice is melting at an accelerating pace—six times the melt rate four decades ago—and that could have significant consequences for coastal communities around the world. The Antarctic shed 40 billion tons of ice each year between 1979 and 1989. But researchers say that the southern continent has been shedding 252 billion tons of ice each year since 2009.
“I don’t want to be alarmist,” Eric Rignot, an Earth systems scientist for both the University of California, Irvine, and NASA, who led the work, toldThe Washington Post. “The places undergoing changes in Antarctica are not limited to just a couple places,” said Rignot. “They seem to be more extensive than what we thought. That, to me, seems to be reason for concern.”
From Inspiring Girls Expeditions: Offering free, wilderness excursions for high school-aged girls, Inspiring Girls Expeditions aims to foster curiosity about the natural world and methods of scientific inquiry. Since 1999 University of Alaska, Fairbanks glaciologist Erin Pettit has led over a dozen “Girls on Ice” trips to Washington’s South Cascade Glacier.
Pettit founded the program because “I wanted to share the inspiration, curiosity, and excitement of using science to learn and explore the mountains. In turn, the girls have taught me about the dreams, and challenges, and amazing variation of lives and experiences for girls from all different communities and cultures across the world.”
Upcoming Girls on Ice expeditions include trips to the Gulkana Glacier in Alaska, Washington’s Mount Baker, the Asulkan Valley in British Columbia, and the Findelen Glacier in Switzerland.
Find out more about Inspiring Girls Expeditions here.
A New Tool for Modeling Glacier Flow
From The Journal of Chemical Physics: Bo Persson, a theoretical physicist at the Jülich Research Center in Germany, has developed an improved model of glacier flow. Persson said his model improves understanding of the cavities that form between ice and bedrock and how water fills these cavities and becomes pressurized.
Persson’s past work has focused on rubber friction and adhesion. “I could take knowledge I have gained during maybe 10 or 15 years of studies of other friction and quickly apply it to the glacier friction problem,” he told the CBC.
The model could help improve estimates of how much glacier melt is contributing to sea level rise around the world.