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Read science articles on the ice age, glaciation and climatology. Discover the connection between ice ages and global warming.
Updated: 15 min 49 sec ago

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.

What turned Earth into a giant snowball 700m years ago? Scientists now have an answer

Wed, 02/07/2024 - 18:44
Inspired during field work in South Australia's Flinders Ranges, geoscientists have proposed that all-time low volcanic carbon dioxide emissions triggered a 57 million year-long global 'Sturtian' ice age.

Study challenges the classical view of the origin of the Antarctic Circumpolar Current and warns of its vulnerability

Mon, 02/05/2024 - 15:58
The Circumpolar Current works as a regulator of the planet's climate. Its origins were thought to have caused the formation of the permanent ice in Antarctica about 34 million years ago. Now, a study has cast doubt on this theory, and has changed the understanding of how the ice sheet in Antarctic developed in the past, and what this could mean in the future as the planet's climate changes.

Permafrost alone holds back Arctic rivers -- and a lot of carbon

Thu, 02/01/2024 - 20:28
A new study provides the first evidence that the Arctic's frozen soil is the dominant force shaping Earth's northernmost rivers, confining them to smaller areas and shallower valleys than rivers to the south. But as climate change weakens Arctic permafrost, the researchers calculate that every 1 degree Celsius of global warming could release as much carbon as 35 million cars emit in a year as polar waterways expand and churn up the thawing soil.

Trees struggle to 'breathe' as climate warms

Wed, 01/31/2024 - 17:35
Trees are struggling to sequester heat-trapping carbon dioxide (CO2) in warmer, drier climates, meaning that they may no longer serve as a solution for offsetting humanity's carbon footprint as the planet continues to warm, according to a new study.

Unprecedented ocean heating shows risks of a world 3°C warmer

Wed, 01/31/2024 - 13:45
New research examines the causes of the record-breaking ocean temperatures witnessed in 2023.

Greenland is a methane sink rather than a source

Wed, 01/31/2024 - 13:44
Researchers have concluded that the methane uptake in dry landscapes exceeds methane emissions from wet areas across the ice-free part of Greenland. The results of the new study contribute with important knowledge for climate models. The researchers are now investigating whether the same finding applies to other polar regions.