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The huge iceberg in Ferryland, Newfoundland on April 16 via jodymartin_3298.

Shocking Photo Shows Massive Chunk of Ice Towering Over Town

A massive iceberg is towering over a Newfoundland town, as climate change continues to cause dramatic and spectacular events.

The giant iceberg near Ferryland, Canada has created quite a stir and even caused traffic jams as locals stop to take pictures.

Icebergs commonly appear off the coast of Ferryland—in fact, this area called "Iceberg Alley" is famous for iceberg tours that start in May. However, this particular iceberg is unusual for its mammoth size and early appearance.

The Canadian Ice Service classified the iceberg as "large," their second largest category that includes heights of 151-240 feet and lengths of 401-670 feet.

According to Gabrielle McGrath, commander of the United States Coast Guard International Ice Patrol, 616 icebergs have already moved down the North Atlantic this year, while last year, 687 were counted by late September.

"When you look at the iceberg chart, it's truly incredible," Rebecca Acton-Bond, acting superintendent of ice operations with the Canadian Coast Guard, told CBC News.

"Usually, you don't see these numbers until the end of May or June. So the amount of icebergs that we're seeing right now, it really is quite something."

Acton-Bond said that the high number of icebergs is evidence that a major calving event has happened in Greenland. Ice calving is the process of ice chunks breaking loose from the edge of a glacier.

This rare climate event is only one of several reported this month. Scientists discovered a giant waterfall forming in Antarctica and an entire river in Canada's Yukon territory suddenly and unexpectedly changing direction.

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Earth's Melting Glaciers Captured in Stunning Before-and-After Images

If you don't agree with 97 percent of climate scientists that climate change is real, you should at least believe your own eyes.

The Earth's rapidly rising temperatures has dramatically transformed our landscapes, as you can see quite clearly in these vivid photos of the world's melting glaciers.

Retreat of the Columbia Glacier, Alaska, USA, by ~6.5 km between 2009 and 2015. Credit: James Balog and the Extreme Ice Survey

The photos appeared in the new paper "Savor the Cryosphere," published in the peer-reviewed GSA Today, a publication of the Geological Society of America. The cryosphere is the Earth's frozen waters.

"We have unretouched photographic evidence of glaciers melting all around the globe," co-author Gregory Baker, adjunct professor of geology at the University of Kansas, said.

"That includes the ice sheets of Greenland and Antarctica—they're reduced in size. These aren't fancy computer models or satellite images where you'd have to make all kinds of corrections for the atmosphere. These are simply photos, some taken up to 100 years ago, and my co-authors went back and reacquired photos at many of these locations. So it's just straightforward proof of large-scale ice loss around the globe."

Baker's research career centers on geophysical imaging of Earth's subsurface and geoscience education.

Stein Glacier, Switzerland, retreat of ~550 m from 2006 to 2015. Credit: James Balog and the Extreme Ice Survey

Photographer James Balog, who was featured in the Emmy Award winning climate change documentary, Chasing Ice, contributed photographs from the Extreme-Ice Survey.

Other co-authors of the paper include Richard Alley, an American geologist who was invited to testify about climate change by Vice President Al Gore; Patrick Burkhart of Slippery Rock University; Lonnie Thompson of the Byrd Polar Research Center at Ohio State University; and Paul Baldauf of Nova Southeastern University also contributed to the paper.

The team hopes the paper will raise awareness about the world's melting glaciers.

"We have all heard of the impact of melting ice on sea level rise, but the public also need to be aware that places around the world depend on glaciers for their water and are going to come under increasing stress, and we already see how water shortages lead to all kinds of conflict," Baker said.

"The other critical point often overlooked is that when glaciers melt we're losing these scientific archive records of past climate change at specific locations around the Earth, as if someone came in and threw away all your family photos."

Solheimajokull, Iceland, retreat of ~625 m from 2007 to 2015. Credit: James Balog and the Extreme Ice Survey

"Glacier ice contains fingerprint evidence of past climate and past biology, trapped within the ice," Baker continued.

“Analyzing ice cores is one of the best ways to analyze carbon dioxide in the past, and they contain pollen we can look at to see what kind of plant systems may have been around. All of this information has been captured in glaciers over hundreds of thousands of years, and sometimes longer—Greenland and Antarctica cover perhaps up to a million years. The more that glacial ice melts, the more we're erasing these historical archives that we may not have measured yet in some remote glaciers, or deep in ice caps, that can tell us the history of the Earth that will be gone forever."

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The meltwater of Canada's Kaskawulsh glacier was suddenly rerouted last May due to human-induced climate change. Photo credit: Jim Best

Human-Caused Climate Change Reroutes Entire River for First Time on Record

By Andy Rowell

New research published in the journal Nature Geoscience Monday outlines the first documented case in modern times of what is being called "river piracy," in which one huge river suddenly flows into another.

On a research trip last summer in Canada's remote Yukon territory, scientists found that the vast Slims River had suddenly and unexpectedly changed direction.

For centuries, the Slims River had flowed north, carrying meltwater from the massive Kaskawulsh Glacier towards the Bering Sea. It was not a small river, spanning some 150 meters (492 feet) at its widest point.

However, the unusually hot spring last year caused an intense melting of the glacier that cut a new channel through the ice to the Alsek River, which flows southwards and into the Pacific. Where once the two rivers were comparable in size, the Slims has been reduced to a trickle and the Alsek is now some 60-70 times larger.

The Alsek had stolen the waters of the Slims.

The first recorded case of "river piracy" in the modern era shows how quickly climate change can alter natural topography. And more troubling for the scientists is that a phenomenon that they would expect to happen over hundreds of years occurred in a matter of days. Moreover, they do not expect it to be reversed. The river theft "is likely to be permanent," they argued.

"We were pretty shocked. We had no idea what was really in store," said Professor Dan Shugar, the paper's lead author and a geoscientist at the University of Washington Tacoma. "Day by day, we could see the water level dropping."

Another of the scientists involved, James Best, a geologist at the University of Illinois, described the discovery. "We went to the area intending to continue our measurements in the Slims River, but found the riverbed more or less dry," he said. "The delta top that we'd been sailing over in a small boat was now a dust storm. In terms of landscape change, it was incredibly dramatic."

The paper outlines that climate change is to blame.

In just fifty years, the Kaskawulsh Glacier has retreated by up to 700 meters (2297 feet). But last year, that rate increased dramatically with the unseasonably warm weather. The scientists argue that the chance of the "river piracy" occurring due to natural variability is at 0.5 percent. "So it's 99.5 percent that it occurred due to warming over the industrial era," said Best.

The phenomenon could have major ramifications for areas such as the Himalayas, the Andes or Alaska as global warming continues and glaciers continue to retreat. Professor Shugar told the New York Times that, as climate change causes more glaciers to melt, "We may see differences in the river networks and where rivers decide to go ... We may be surprised by what climate change has in store for us—and some of the effects might be much more rapid than we are expecting."

Indeed, the Nature Geoscience paper was published alongside an essay from Rachel M. Headley, an Assistant Professor of Geoscience at the University of Wisconsin-Parkside. "As the world warms and more glaciers melt, populations dependent upon glacial meltwater should pay special attention to these processes," she warned.

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A coastal glacier in southern Greenland mirrored in the sea. Photo credit: Claire Rowland via Flickr

Greenland's Coastal Glaciers in Terminal Decline

By Tim Radford

By the century's end, some of Greenland's ice will have vanished forever.

New research shows that the coastal glaciers and ice caps are melting faster than ever before and may have already reached the point of no return two decades ago. That is because they have passed the stage at which they can refreeze their own meltwater.

These peripheral glaciers and icecaps cover an estimated 100,000 square kilometers of the island. And when they have gone, the world's oceans will have risen by four centimeters.

Body of Greenland ice

But scientists reporting in Nature Communications journal said most of the Greenland ice—the biggest body of ice in the northern hemisphere—is still safe. Were all of its ice to melt, sea levels would rise by at least seven meters.

"Higher altitudes are colder, so the highest ice caps are still relatively healthy at the moment," said study leader Brice Noël, a PhD student of polar glaciology and Arctic climate modeling at the University of Utrecht in the Netherlands.

"However, we see melting occur higher and higher. That's a big problem, because that 'melting line' is moving towards the altitude where most of the ice mass is.

"The main ice sheet in the interior of Greenland is much more elevated and isn't doing too bad yet. But we can already see an increase in the altitude of the 'melting line' there as well."

The coastal research concentrated on the mechanics of ice loss. Normally, glaciers and ice caps grow because summer meltwater drains through into the deeper frozen snow and freezes again. The icecap retains its mass and even increases.

But 20 years ago, the firn, or older snow, became saturated, freezing right through, and more summer meltwater now runs to the sea. The rate of increase varies from 17 to 74 percent and the icecaps each year are losing three times the mass loss measured in 1997.

Concern about Greenland ice and glaciers being in retreat is not new. In fact, glaciers in both hemispheres are observed to be in retreat, and the Geological Society of America has just published telltale imagery and an analysis based on observations of more than 5,200 glaciers in 19 regions around the world, showing that the loss of ice mass this century is without precedent.

So Greenland's glaciers are just part of a bigger picture. But since Greenland is home to the second largest volume of ice on the planet, what happens there concerns the entire world.

Testimony to climate change

Researchers observed years ago that the rivers of Greenland ice are in spate and rates of melting are thought likely to accelerate. The latest report is another piece of testimony to climate change in the far north.

"These peripheral glaciers and ice caps can be thought of as colonies of ice that are in rapid decline, many of which will likely disappear in the near future," said Ian Howat, a glaciologist at Ohio State University in the U.S. and a co-author of the report.

"In that sense, you could say that they're 'doomed.' However, the ice sheet itself is still not 'doomed' in the same way. The vast interior ice sheet is more climatologically isolated than the surrounding glaciers and ice caps.

"Also, since this 'tipping point' was reached in the late 1990s before warming really took off, it indicates that these peripheral glaciers are very sensitive and, potentially, ephemeral relative to the timescales of response of the ice sheet."

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Photo credit: Stein Glacier on Aug. 20, 2015. (C: James Balog and the Extreme Ice Survey/GSA Today/The Geological Society of America)

Going, Going, Gone

By Andy Rowell

President Trump opens his eyes, but he does not see. Trump listens, but he does not hear. He speaks, but he makes no sense. How can the most powerful man be so completely ignorant about climate change? How can it be that as the evidence about climate change gets stronger, politicians like Trump seem to get more ignorant?

That is a question that is perplexing climate scientists and others fighting climate change.

Every day comes news that we are in deep, deep trouble. The Guardian reported this morning that "Climate change is rapidly becoming a crisis that defies hyperbole," with impacts "occurring faster in many parts of the world than even the most gloomy scientists predicted."

The newspaper reported on three recent studies which reveal there has been a "massive under-reporting" of the impacts of climate change:

  • The first paper, published in Science found that current warming (just one degree Celsius) has "already left a discernible mark on 77 of 94 different ecological processes, including species' genetics, seasonal responses, overall distribution and even morphology—i.e. physical traits including body size and shape."
  • A second paper, published in Nature Climate Change this February concluded that 47 percent of land mammals and 23 percent of birds have already suffered negative impacts form climate change. In total, nearly 700 species in these two groups are struggling over climate change. Entire ecosystems—some the size of states within the U.S.—are changing. Some are not surviving.
  • A third study in PLOS Biology found that more than 450 plants and animals have undergone local extinctions due to climate change. As some struggle to adapt they may go extinct altogether.

Trump might not read the left-leaning Guardian or the scientific press, but he should be reading the Washington Post. Earlier this week the Washington Post reported on a recent paper by the Geological Society of America which "presents dramatic before-and-after photographs of glaciers around the world over the last decade."

The majority of the photos were taken by renowned photographer James Balog as part of the Extreme Ice Survey, which was featured in the 2012 documentary Chasing Ice. The videos and still photos show glaciers in fast retreat. For example, the Mendenhall Glacier in Alaska retreated 550 meters between 2007 and 2015.

Balog told the paper, "I do think that our most dominant sensory apparatus is our vision. So when you can deliver an understanding of the reality of what's going on through vision, rather than numbers or maps, that also has the unique ability to touch and influence people."

The paper's authors argue that photographic records "provide an outstanding avenue for education, because they display a record of ice that may never be seen again."

But Trump is ignoring the photographic evidence. If he will not listen to the scientists, maybe Trump will listen to the security experts.

Sherri Goodman, a former U.S. deputy undersecretary of defense and founder of the CNA Military Advisory Board, is speaking this week in Sydney at the Breakthrough Institute at screenings of The Age of Consequences documentary, a film about the security threat posed by climate change. It is said to be a must-watch film. As the Toronto Star noted about the film, "the election of a climate denier Donald Trump underscores the urgency of this documentary."

As the ice retreats, whole ecosystem change and species die out, sea levels rise and storms increase and droughts get worse, we will all be living with the consequences of a climate denier in the White House, a man who looks, but does not see. Even as the glaciers disappear before his eyes.

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A team from Rutgers University and the University of Georgia, led by Asa Rennermalm of Rutgers, measures meltwater runoff from the ice sheet margin in Greenland during summer 2013. Photo credit: Asa Rennermalm/Rutgers University

Greenland's Coastal Glaciers Rapidly Withering Away

Greenland's icy coastlines are withering away at a rapid pace. With ever rising temperatures in the region, scientists fear the glaciers may never grow back.

A team from Ohio State University discovered that about 20 years ago, melting on the island reached a tipping point. In this event, a layer of old snow called the firn, was frozen over and the ice sheet growth was stunted. This caused the new growth on the coastlines to halt. Combined with rising temperatures of the sea, the ice has been melting away in large sectors. At the rate it's going, the team said there will be a 1.5 inch increase in global sea level rise by 2100.

According to the study:

The find is important because it reveals exactly why the most vulnerable parts of Greenland ice are melting so quickly: the deep snow layer that normally captures coastal meltwater was filled to capacity in 1997. That layer of snow and meltwater has since frozen solid, so that all new meltwater flows over it and out to sea.

Though these findings are bad news, the researchers said there is no "immediate cause for panic." The Greenland Ice Sheet—the second largest ice cache in the world—is relatively intact. Associate professor at Ohio State, and co-author of the study Ian Howat, said the outer layers of ice contribute a small portion to the greater sheet, and that their melting may even be ephemeral, or seasonal to some degree.

"Since this 'tipping point' was reached in the late 90's before warming really took off, it indicates that these peripheral glaciers are very sensitive and, potentially, ephemeral relative to the timescales of response of the ice sheet," said Howat.

The areas in red are most at risk of being lost.

Though the entire coastline is not at risk, if it were to melt away, we'd see an uptake of a few inches in sea level. To put that in terms of the greater ice sheet, if the entire entity melted, we'd see a rise of 24 feet in total.

"These peripheral glaciers and ice caps can be thought of as colonies of ice that are in rapid decline, many of which will likely disappear in the near future," said Howat. "In that sense, you could say that they're 'doomed.' However, the ice sheet itself is still not 'doomed' in the same way. The vast interior ice sheet is more climatologically isolated than the surrounding glaciers and ice caps."

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The women of Homeward Bound. Photo credit: Anne Christianson

These 76 Women Scientists Are Changing the World

By Molly Taft

Heidi Steltzer's job, as she put it, is "hiking where no one else will go." As a mountain and polar ecologist studying rare plants, she's accustomed to traveling to breathtaking Arctic vistas to chase flora along mountain ridges.

But watching glaciers calve on her first trip to Antarctica last December was a one-of-a-kind experience for the scientist. "You kind of want to see it," she said. "Even though you know it's not a good thing, you kind of want to be there."

As she watched the great icebergs float by the boat in Neko Harbor, another member of Seltzer's trip waved her arm at the scene, as if summoning a force to shave the glaciers surrounding them.

"Can you imagine if any one of us had that kind of power to see ice calve when you wanted to see it?" laughed Seltzer. "But at the same time, we knew, collectively—we do have that power. You can't say these specific glaciers are definitively calving because of human action. But these events continuing to happen is consistent in that system and consistent with what we know about human activity and climate change."

Heidi Steltzer.Anne Christianson

Seltzer's colleagues were more knowledgeable than your average gaggle of tourists. The travelers on her trip were all scientists and several of them focus specifically on climate change. What's more, her 75 companions on the three-week trip were all women, bound together on the largest-ever, all-female expedition to Antarctica. The trip was the focal point of a year-long leadership development program called Homeward Bound, which aims to groom 1,000 women with science backgrounds over the next 10 years to influence public policy and dialogue.

While women made up more than 50 percent of the U.S. workforce in 2016, they represented only 24 percent of workers in STEM—science, technology, engineering and math. Representation in public policy is even worse: Women hold less than 23 percent of parliamentary positions worldwide and less than 20 percent of Congress is female. The founder of Homeward Bound told Reuters that inspiration came from the trip from hearing two scientists joke that a beard was a requirement to land an Antarctic research leadership role.

The women of Homeward Bound. Anne Christianson

The problem of female leadership in STEM isn't a new one. When Katharine Hayhoe, director of the Climate Science Center at Texas Tech University and a leading U.S. climate voice, was a second-year undergraduate physics student, the head of the department called her into his office to ask how the program could help encourage her career as a female physicist.

"My mentors in science from day one have all been male," she recalled. "I've learned a lot from them and I've been incredibly encouraged and supported by them. But at the same time, there have been differences between us."

Katharine Hayhoe.Katharine Hayhoe

Lifestyle and family changes, Hayhoe emphasized, provide a particular sticking point between the genders in STEM. "As I got older, I started to realize how big the gap was between colleagues who basically had a spouse who managed everything full time," she said. "They could just, at the drop of the hat, leap on an airplane and be off to a meeting, versus a mother who, before you do anything, you've got to do all the laundry, freeze the meals, figure out who is picking the kids up from schools. At this point, if someone asks me to do something at the drop of the hat, the answer is no—and this still happens to me today."

Steltzer echoed similar experiences. "At one point in time, women were present in equal measures to myself at a peer level," she said. "But now that I'm in my early 40s, an associate professor, in many environments I'm in there are fewer women. There are ways we can do better."

The polar plunge at Neko Bay.Sarah Brough

She pointed out that the perception of "good old boys' clubs" in male-dominated fields may just be men connecting with each other over shared experiences. Getting a group of female scientists together can create a collaborative, experience-based atmosphere that can be difficult for women to find at home. "Homeward Bound created for us women a space and a place where we feel connected to one another."

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The North Face

Stunning Portraits Put a Human Face on Climate Change

By Clara Chaisson

The image of a solitary polar bear stranded on a melting ice floe is the unofficial poster child of the climate movement. But the world's climbing temperatures are threatening more than charismatic megafauna; people's lives and cultural heritage are at risk, too. With his portraits, artist Sean Yoro is helping to put a human face on the climate change issue.

Yoro, aka "Hula," grew up in Oahu, Hawaii. Now based in New York City, he honors his childhood love of the ocean with a unique approach to "street art," painting semi-submerged murals on walls, shipwrecks and abandoned docks while perched atop a stand-up paddleboard. His latest canvas of choice? Sea ice.

"A'o 'Ana (The Warning)"Hula

Some of Yoro's recent projects have taken him to the front lines of global warming, where his portraits that disappear in response to environmental changes are a powerful metaphor for climate change. The murals, rendered in nontoxic paints made from natural pigments and linseed or safflower oil, are transient by design.

Sean Yoro stands on an iceberg freshly broken off from a nearby glacier in northern Iceland.Hula

Yoro paints his murals from a stand-up paddleboard—in the Arctic.Hula

Yoro traveled to northern Iceland in November 2015 to paint a woman's likeness on icebergs from a melting glacier. Last summer, he teamed up with apparel company The North Face to complete a portrait in the Arctic waters of Baffin Island, Nunavut.

His timing couldn't have been better. Temperatures in the Arctic are increasing at double the rate of the rest of the globe—in November, for instance, the mercury rose more than 36 degrees Fahrenheit above normal. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's recently released Arctic Report Card for 2016 paints a grim picture of "persistent warming," "loss of sea ice" and "extensive Arctic changes." The report calls for "more effective and timely communication of these scientific observations to diverse user audiences."

Enter Yoro. To better understand how climate change is affecting the residents of Baffin Island and share their message with the world, the artist first cultivated a relationship with the area's Inuit community. He spent time with local Jesse Mike, who ended up becoming the model for Yoro's ice mural.

Mike told him: "For most people it's about the polar bears, not about the people. Inuit want to make it about the people."

Watch What If You Fly, a short video about Yoro's trip to the Arctic, below:

Reposted with permission from our media associate onEarth.

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