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Read science articles on the ice age, glaciation and climatology. Discover the connection between ice ages and global warming.
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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.

Giant Antarctic sea spiders reproductive mystery solved

Sun, 02/18/2024 - 20:11
Instead of carrying the babies until they hatched, as in most species of sea spiders, one parent (likely the father) spent two days attaching the eggs to the rocky bottom where they developed for several months before hatching as tiny larvae.

Frequent marine heatwaves in the Arctic Ocean will be the norm

Tue, 02/13/2024 - 12:04
Marine heatwaves will become a regular occurrence in the Arctic in the near future and are a product of higher anthropogenic greenhouse-gas emissions -- as shown in a new study.

Greenland's ice sheet is melting -- and being replaced by vegetation

Tue, 02/13/2024 - 12:04
An estimated 11,000 sq miles or 28,707 sq kilometers of Greenland's ice sheet and glaciers have melted over the last three decades, according to a major analysis of historic satellite records.

Polar bears unlikely to adapt to longer summers

Tue, 02/13/2024 - 12:04
More time stranded on land means greater risk of starvation for polar bears, a new study indicates. During three summer weeks, 20 polar bears closely observed by scientists tried different strategies to maintain energy reserves, including resting, scavenging and foraging. Yet nearly all of them lost weight rapidly: on average around 1 kilogram, or 2.2 pounds, per day. Some have speculated that polar bears might adapt to the longer ice-free seasons due to climate warming by acting like their grizzly bear relatives and either rest or eat terrestrial food. The polar bears in this study tried versions of both strategies -- with little success.

When the global climate has the hiccups

Mon, 02/12/2024 - 12:31
Climate changes usually happens over long periods of time, but during the last glacial period, extreme fluctuations in temperature occurred within just a few years. Researchers have now been able to prove the phenomenon also occurred during the penultimate glacial period.

Industrial pollution leaves its mark in Mediterranean corals

Thu, 02/08/2024 - 19:23
For the first time, pollutants from burning fossil fuels have been found embedded in corals, offering scientists a potential new tool to track the history of pollution, finds a new study.

Ice cores provide first documentation of rapid Antarctic ice loss in the past

Thu, 02/08/2024 - 11:20
Researchers have uncovered the first direct evidence that the West Antarctic Ice Sheet shrunk suddenly and dramatically at the end of the Last Ice Age, around eight thousand years ago. The evidence, contained within an ice core, shows that in one location the ice sheet thinned by 450 meters -- that's more than the height of the Empire State Building -- in just under 200 years.

Ancient rocks improve understanding of tectonic activity between earthquakes

Wed, 02/07/2024 - 18:51
Rocks once buried deep in ancient subduction zones -- where tectonic plates collide -- could help scientists make better predictions of how these zones behave during the years between major earthquakes, according to a research team.

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