Tag Archives: glaciers

Links: Melting glaciers, floods, and species responses to climate change

1) BBC News – Rivers of ice: Vanishing glaciers.- David Breashears retraced the steps of early photographic pioneers such as Major E O Wheeler, George Mallory and Vittorio Sella – to try to re-take their views of breathtaking glacial vistas.

2) Thai water management experts are blaming human activity.for turning an unusually heavy monsoon season into a disaster. NYTimes writes:

The main factors, they say, are deforestation, overbuilding in catchment areas, the damming and diversion of natural waterways, urban sprawl, and the filling-in of canals, combined with bad planning. Warnings to the authorities, they say, have been in vain

3) Chen et al’s conducted a metanalysis of published species response to ongoing climate change and found 2-3X faster movement than previous studies.  Their paper in Science – Rapid Range Shifts of Species Associated with High Levels of Climate Warming (DOI: 10.1126/science.1206432) estimated median rates of species movement were 11m gain in elevation/ decade and poleward movement of 17 km/ decade. They conclude:

average rates of latitudinal distribution change match those expected on the basis of average temperature change, but that variation is so great within taxonomic groups that more detailed physiological, ecological and environmental data are required to provide specific prognoses for individual species.

Global Glacier Decline

The World Glacier Monitoring Service‘s latest report shows that, based on data from 30 glaciers spread in nine mountainous regions of the world, glacier mass balance is negative (i.e. glacier melt exceeds ice formation) and the average mass balance is declining (i.e. more ice is melting each year).

Glacier Mass Loss

Figure 1a and 1b: Mean cumulative specific net balance (top) and mean annual specific net balance (bottom) from continuously measured on 30 glaciers in 9 mountain ranges for the period 1980-2004, on 29 glaciers in 9 mountain ranges for 2005, and on 27 glaciers in 8 mountain ranges for 2006. (see World Glacier Monitoring Service).

Andy Revkin comments on the report in Farewell to Ice on his weblog, and the USA’s National Snow and Ice Data Center host a collection of repeat photography of glaciers documenting their decline.

See also the previous post Arctic Sea ice at record low.