Thursday, March 7, 2013

Glaciers will melt faster than ever and loss could be irreversible warn scientists

Science Daily: Canada's Arctic Archipelago glaciers will melt faster than ever in the next few centuries. Research by European funded scientists has shown that 20 per cent of the Canadian Arctic glaciers may have disappeared by the end of this century which would amount to an additional sea level rise of 3.5 cm.

The results of the research, part of the EU funded ice2sea programme, will be published in Geophysical Research Letters this week, and the paper is now available online. The researchers developed a climate model for the island group of the north of Canada in which they simulated the shrinking and growing of glaciers in this area.

The researchers show that the model correctly "predicted" the ice mass loss measured over the last ten years and then used the same model to project the effect of future climate change on Canada's Arctic Archipelago glaciers.

The most important result of the research is it shows the probable irreversibility of the melting process, according to lead author Dr Jan Lenaerts of Utrecht University who says, "Even if we assume that global warming is not happening quite so fast, it is still highly likely that the ice is going to melt at an alarming rate. The chances of it growing back are very slim."

One of the main reasons for the irreversibility lies in the fact that snow melting on tundra, and sea ice loss from around the glaciers, actually reinforce regional warming, with significant consequences on the glaciers of Northern Canada. Snow and sea ice reflect the sunlight, and when the snow and sea ice have disappeared, a large part of the sunlight will be absorbed by the land and the sea, which will significantly increase the local temperature....

Kluane icefield, shot by Steffen Schreyer, Wikimedia Commons, under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.0 Germany license

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