melting-glacier

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When the End of Human Civilization Is Your Day Job
For climate scientists, it can be hard to sleep at night.

For more than thirty years, climate scientists have been living a surreal existence. A vast and ever-growing body of research shows that warming is tracking the rise of greenhouse gases exactly as their models predicted.

The physical evidence becomes more dramatic every year: forests retreating, animals moving north, glaciers melting, wildfire seasons getting longer, higher rates of droughts, floods, and storms—five times as many in the 2000s as in the 1970s.

In the blunt words of the 2014 National Climate Assessment, conducted by three hundred of America’s most distinguished experts at the request of the U. S. government, human-induced climate change is real—U. S. temperatures have gone up between 1.3 and 1.9 degrees, mostly since 1970—and the change is already affecting “agriculture, water, human health, energy, transportation, forests, and ecosystems.”

But that’s not the worst of it. Arctic air temperatures are increasing at twice the rate of the rest of the world—a study by the U. S. Navy says that the Arctic could lose its summer sea ice by next year, eighty-four years ahead of the models—and evidence little more than a year old suggests the West Antarctic Ice Sheet is doomed, which will add between twenty and twenty-five feet to ocean levels

The one hundred million people in Bangladesh will need another place to live and coastal cities globally will be forced to relocate, a task complicated by economic crisis and famine—with continental interiors drying out, the chief scientist at the U. S. State Department in 2009 predicted a billion people will suffer famine within twenty or thirty years.

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In the middle of the Alaskan Gulf a distinct difference in colour between two adjacent bodies of water has been noticed. The explanation would be that the fresh water of a melting glacier and the the saline water from the ocean have different densities and did not mix immediately.

Read more on these pictures by Ken Smith here

At the end of the last ice age, the glaciers melted and the water they released caused sea levels to rise worldwide. Peninsulas became islands, like Great Britain and Indonesia. Some islands disappeared altogether. What the land looked like before the glaciers melted was forgotten by most of the world. But now, research in Australia has shown that pre-melt geography was not forgotten by all of the world. Keep reading… 

CO2, but from where?

Geologists have many records that tell the story of the last glacial maximum, the time between about 20,000 and 15,000 years ago when the glaciers of the last ice age reached their peak size and started to retreat. Ice cores, sediment cores, records of plants, soil, wind-blown loess deposits, ice-rafted debris in the ocean, etc. One story told over and over is that CO2 in the atmosphere went up significantly, from about 180 ppm to 280 ppm (for comparison, we’re currently very close to 400 ppm). That CO2 pulse into the atmosphere warmed the planet and created a runaway process that melted the glaciers.

One big question has always remained though; where did this CO2 come from? We know where the CO2 pulse today is coming from; fossil fuels, but 15,000 years ago there were no coal plants.

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Brimham Rocks

This balancing rock formation can be found in Brimham Moor in North Yorkshire, England. The area is made up of many funny shaped rocks which were given imaginative names like the Sphinx, the Watchdog, the Turtle and the Dancing Bear. Many of them reach over 30 meters into the sky and at an overall height of about 300 meters the whole area enjoys spectacular views over the surrounding countryside.

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