16 July 2007

Ice: Going, going...

The cryosphere includes regions with snow, ice, ice shelves, sea ice, glaciers, frozen ground and icebergs. It plays several important roles in the climate of our planet, from reflection of solar radiation to driver of ocean circulation. Recent observations have highlighted the continuing damage it has suffered due to climate change.


  • Crisis looms for Bolivia as glaciers melt – ABC News

    The glaciers in the Andes mountains of Bolivia provide about half the drinking water for two million people down the mountain. But the glaciers are now melting at an unprecedented rate and will be completely gone within 20 years.

Glaciers in the Tianshan mountains of Xinjiang, near China's western border, are shrinking at "alarming speeds", the Xinhua news agency said on Thursday, citing a local scientist.

Higher temperatures, melting permafrost, a reduction in polar ice and increased flooding are expected to raise the repair and replacement cost of thousands of infrastructure projects as much as $6.1 billion for a total of nearly $40 billion — about a 20 percent increase — from now to 2030, according to the study, by the Institute for Social and Economic Research at the University of Alaska Anchorage.
Sea Ice
The trends of sea ice concentration presents many problems now and in the future. The amount of sea ice has been declining in recent years.
Future climate change may affect global ocean circulation because of reduced Antarctic winter sea ice formation in large open water areas...
Melting sea ice is driving mother polar bears onto land in northern Alaska to give birth, scientists have found.

Pregnant polar bears build snow dens to protect new cubs from the Arctic winter. The researchers found that between 1985 and 1994, 62% of polar bear dens were built on sea ice – but that number dropped to 37% between 1998 and 2004
Ice Sheets

A new NASA analysis of climate change warns that the Earth’s remaining ice sheets could melt much faster than predicted, drowning even the most alarming projections by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change in a sea of unprecedented disaster.

The cryosphere is one of the more sensitive regions to climate change. Changes to the cryosphere, once they reach a particular point, should be a readily visible indicator of climate change. With the items listed above, and other data found at the National Snow and Ice Data Center, the oncoming threat to humanity should be more than obvious. Its time to take action.

The above images are from the National Snow and Ice Data Center. The top shows a glacier in the Cascade Mountains in 1928 (left) and in 2000. The bottom image shows a near real-time satellite composite of the extent of Arctic Sea Ice from 13 July 2007.

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