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Read science articles on the ice age, glaciation and climatology. Discover the connection between ice ages and global warming.
Updated: 2 hours 36 min ago

After decades of Arctic sea ice getting faster and more hazardous for transport, models suggest a dramatic reversal is coming

Tue, 03/05/2024 - 12:42
Will ice floating in the Arctic Ocean move faster or slower over the coming decades? The answer to this question will tell us whether marine transportation can be expected to get more or less hazardous. It might also have important implications for the rate of ice cover loss, which is hugely consequential for Northern Indigenous communities, ecosystems, and the global climate system. While observational data suggest the trend has been towards faster sea ice speeds, climate models project that those speeds will slow down during the summer season. This contrast has led to some questions around the plausibility of the model projections.

We know the Arctic is warming -- What will changing river flows do to its environment?

Tue, 03/05/2024 - 12:42
Scientists recently combined satellite data, field observations and sophisticated numerical modeling to paint a picture of how 22.45 million square kilometers of the Arctic will change over the next 80 years. As expected, the overall region will be warmer and wetter, but the details -- up to 25% more runoff, 30% more subsurface runoff and a progressively drier southern Arctic, provides one of the clearest views yet of how the landscape will respond to climate change.

Arctic could become 'ice-free' within a decade

Tue, 03/05/2024 - 12:42
While summer sea ice loss in the Arctic is inevitable, it can be reversed if the planet cools down, researchers say.

Less ice in the Arctic Ocean has complex effects on marine ecosystems and ocean productivity

Mon, 03/04/2024 - 18:55
Most of the sunlight reaching the Arctic Ocean is reflected to space by sea ice, effectively shielding ocean ecosystems from sunlight. As the Arctic sea ice continues its downward trend, larger areas of the ocean become exposed to sunlight for longer periods, potentially allowing more primary production on the seafloor. However, according to a new study, this anticipated increase in primary production does not seem to be occurring uniformly across the Arctic Ocean.

Antarctica's coasts are becoming less icy

Mon, 03/04/2024 - 18:54
Scientists found unexpected evidence the area of polynyas around Antarctica is increasing dramatically, and it follows an intriguing cycle, growing and shrinking roughly every 16 years.

Researchers use GPS-tracked icebergs in novel study to improve climate models

Fri, 03/01/2024 - 12:47
Research unearthed new information to help scientists better understand circulation patterns of ocean water around glaciers. In the summers of 2014 and 2019, a group of pioneers in glacial research attached GPS devices to 13 icebergs and tracked hourly changes in their positions as they passed through Greenland's Ilulissat Icefjord toward the ocean. Study results showed circulation in the primary fjord is greatly affected by freshwater flow from connecting tributary fjords, which is critically important to consider in circulation models.

Glacier shrinkage is causing a 'green transition'

Fri, 03/01/2024 - 12:46
Glacier-fed streams are undergoing a process of profound change, according to scientists. This conclusion is based on the expeditions to the world's major mountain ranges by members of the Vanishing Glaciers project.

Mercury rising: Study sheds new light on ancient volcanoes' environmental impact

Thu, 02/29/2024 - 17:29
Massive volcanic events in Earth's history that released large amounts of carbon into the atmosphere frequently correlate with periods of severe environmental change and mass extinctions. A new method to estimate how much and how rapidly carbon was released by the volcanoes could improve our understanding of the climate response, according to an international team.

Surprising methane discovery in Yukon glaciers: 'Much more widespread than we thought'

Thu, 02/29/2024 - 11:45
Global melting is prying the lid off methane stocks, the extent of which we do not know. A researcher has now discovered high concentrations of the powerful greenhouse gas in meltwater from three Canadian mountain glaciers, where it was not thought to exist -- adding new unknowns to the understanding of methane emissions from Earth's glaciated regions.

80 mph speed record for glacier fracture helps reveal the physics of ice sheet collapse

Wed, 02/28/2024 - 14:47
New research documents the fastest-known large-scale breakage along an Antarctic ice shelf. A 6.5-mile crack formed in 2012 over 5-and-a-half minutes, showing that ice shelves can effectively shatter -- though the speed is limited by seawater rushing in. The results help inform large-scale ice sheet models and projections of future sea level rise.

Older African elephants will be most severely affected by the changing climate

Wed, 02/28/2024 - 14:47
Older elephants in East Africa will be most severely impacted by climate change, threatening the long-term survival of this vulnerable African mammal, according to a new study.

Walleye struggle with changes to timing of spring thaw

Tue, 02/27/2024 - 16:22
Walleye are one of the most sought-after species in freshwater sportfishing, a delicacy on Midwestern menus and a critically important part of the culture of many Indigenous communities. They are also struggling to survive in the warming waters of the Midwestern United States and Canada. According to a new study, part of the problem is that walleye are creatures of habit, and the seasons -- especially winter -- are changing so fast that this iconic species of freshwater fish can't keep up.

First DNA study of ancient Eastern Arabians reveals malaria adaptation

Tue, 02/27/2024 - 12:08
People living in ancient Eastern Arabia appear to have developed resistance to malaria following the appearance of agriculture in the region around five thousand years ago.

Significant glacial retreat in West Antarctica began in 1940s

Mon, 02/26/2024 - 19:46
Among the vast expanse of Antarctica lies the Thwaites Glacier, the world's widest glacier measuring about 80 miles on the western edge of the continent. Despite its size, the massive landform is losing about 50 billion tons of ice more than it is receiving in snowfall, which places it in a precarious position in respect to its stability. Accelerating ice loss has been observed since the 1970s, but it is unclear when this significant melting initiated -- until now. A new study suggests that the significant glacial retreat of two glaciers on the west coast of Antarctica began in the 1940's, likely spurred by climate change.

Barriers against Antarctic ice melt disappearing at the double

Fri, 02/23/2024 - 09:39
Undersea anchors of ice that help prevent Antarctica's land ice from slipping into the ocean are shrinking at more than twice the rate compared with 50 years ago, research shows. More than a third of these frozen moorings, known as pinning points, have decreased in size since the turn of the century, experts say. Further deterioration of pinning points, which hold in place the floating ice sheets that fortify Antarctica's land ice, would accelerate the continent's contribution to rising sea levels, scientists warn.

Biggest Holocene volcano eruption found by seabed survey

Wed, 02/21/2024 - 23:45
A detailed survey of the volcanic underwater deposits around the Kikai caldera in Japan clarified the deposition mechanisms as well as the event's magnitude. As a result, the research team found that the event 7,300 years ago was the largest volcanic eruption in the Holocene by far.

Climate change could push bowhead whales to cross paths with shipping traffic

Wed, 02/21/2024 - 20:38
The population of bowhead whales that migrates between the Bering and Beaufort Seas each year is a conservation success story, with today's population nearing -- if not exceeding -- pre-commercial whaling numbers. But climate change is shifting the whales' feeding grounds and migration patterns, potentially pushing them to spend more time in the paths of oncoming ships, according to a new study.

Utah's Bonneville Salt Flats has long been in flux

Wed, 02/21/2024 - 20:38
It has been long assumed that Utah's Bonneville Salt Flats was formed as its ancient namesake lake dried up 13,000 years ago. But new research has gutted that narrative, determining these crusts did not form until several thousand years after Lake Bonneville disappeared, which could have important implications for managing this feature that has been shrinking for decades to the dismay of the racing community and others who revere the saline pan 100 miles west of Salt Lake City. Relying on radiocarbon analysis of pollen found in salt cores, the study concludes the salt began accumulating between 5,400 and 3,500 years ago, demonstrating how this geological feature is not a permanent fixture on the landscape.

New cloud model could help with climate research

Wed, 02/21/2024 - 15:05
When clouds meet clear skies, cloud droplets evaporate as they mix with dry air. A new study has succeeded in capturing what happens in a model. Ultimately, this could lead to more accurate climate modeling in the future.

Decline in microbial genetic richness in the western Arctic Ocean

Tue, 02/20/2024 - 13:44
Researchers analyzed archival samples of bacteria and archaea populations taken from the Beaufort Sea, bordering northwest Canada and Alaska. The samples were collected between 2004 and 2012, a period that included two years -- 2007 and 2012 -- in which the sea ice coverage was historically low. The researchers looked at samples taken from three levels of water: the summer mixed layer, the upper Arctic water below it and the Pacific-origin water at the deepest level. The study examined the microbes' genetic composition using bioinformatics and statistical analysis across the nine-year time span. Using this data, the researchers were able to see how changing environmental conditions were influencing the organisms' structure and function.