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photos by paul zizka in western greenland taken september 2015. notes paul, “i love how the night time can turn familiar places into completely different experiences. i also love all the elements of magic associated with astrophotography - aurora, stars, moonlight - and i’m always blown away by all the beauty that the camera reveals but the naked eye cannot see.’

of note: findings recently published in the journal nature have shown that the greenland ice sheet lost 9,013 gigatonnes of water ice from 1900 to 2010, which led to an overall global sea level rise of one inch. the study also found that from 2003 to 2010, the ice sheet lost 1,305 gigatonnes - a rate which is more than twice that for the entire 20th century. 

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bryan and cherry alexander photographed these asperatus clouds in the morning sky over qaanaaq, north west greenland. the alexanders, who have extensively documented the north and its native peoples for over fourty years, noted that “just about everybody in the village was amazed, including an elderly inuit hunter who told me that he had never seen anything like that before in his life.”  

asperatus clouds gets their name from the latin aspero, a word used by romans to describe the sea as it was roughened by the cold north wind. though the cause of their formation remains unknown, it is likely that the lumpy, undulating underside of the clouds is a result of warmer, moister air from above meeting colder, dryer air from below, combined with high level wind passing over rolling terrain. 

see also: circumhorizontal arcs, mammatus clouds, polar stratospheric clouds, noctilucent clouds, lenticular clouds and more asperatus clouds

Greenland is Melting Away

This river is one of a network of thousands at the front line of climate change.

 By NYTimes: Coral Davenport, Josh Haner, Larry Buchanan and Derek Watkins                                    

On the Greenland Ice Sheet — The midnight sun still gleamed at 1 a.m. across the brilliant expanse of the Greenland ice sheet. Brandon Overstreet, a doctoral candidate in hydrology at the University of Wyoming, picked his way across the frozen landscape, clipped his climbing harness to an anchor in the ice and crept toward the edge of a river that rushed downstream toward an enormous sinkhole.

If he fell in, “the death rate is 100 percent,” said Mr. Overstreet’s friend and fellow researcher, Lincoln Pitcher.

But Mr. Overstreet’s task, to collect critical data from the river, is essential to understanding one of the most consequential impacts of global warming. The scientific data he and a team of six other researchers collect here could yield groundbreaking information on the rate at which the melting of the Greenland ice sheet, one of the biggest and fastest-melting chunks of ice on Earth, will drive up sea levels in the coming decades. The full melting of Greenland’s ice sheet could increase sea levels by about 20 feet. [bold/itals mine]

“We scientists love to sit at our computers and use climate models to make those predictions,” said Laurence C. Smith, head of the geography department at the University of California, Los Angeles, and the leader of the team that worked in Greenland this summer. “But to really know what’s happening, that kind of understanding can only come about through empirical measurements in the field.”

For years, scientists have studied the impact of the planet’s warming on the Greenland and Antarctic ice sheets. But while researchers have satellite images to track the icebergs that break off, and have created models to simulate the thawing, they have little on-the-ground information and so have trouble predicting precisely how fast sea levels will rise.

Dire report by three excellent Times journalists covering a team of researchers camped out on the icesheets of Greenland. The conclusion is that glaciers and land ice are melting at rates far higher than scientists anticipated, or that climate models have shown. This means that sea levels are rising faster than projected, and many coastal communities are in grave danger.

The economic impacts are incalculable.