I bounce languidly up and down as the dynamic physics inherent in the rope play themselves out. Somehow Sean has checked my fall while still on the surface of the glacier. I brush the snow and chunks of ice from my hair, arms and chest and pull down the sleeves of my shirt. Finding my glacier glasses hanging from the pocket of my climbing bib, I tuck them away. I check myself for injuries and, incredibly, find none.
- 8 Amazing Things Uncovered by Melting Glaciers and Ice | Mental Floss.
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I look down. Nothing but blackness. My stomach clenches. I remind myself to breathe. Time passes. To ignore my fear of dying, I gaze meditatively at the ice a few feet in front of me as I dangle. The miniature air pockets found in the whiter ice near the top of the glacier have long since been compressed, producing the mesmerising beauty of centuries-old turquoise ice.
Slightly deeper into the crevasse is ice that has been there since long before the Neanderthals. I hang suspended in silence, mindful not to move for fear of dislodging Sean. Giving my full attention to the ice immediately within my vision, I focus on how the gently refracting light from above seems to penetrate and reflect off the perfectly smooth wall.
Staring into it, the blue seems infinite. Eventually our two other teammates arrive and work to extract Sean from his perch just six inches from the edge of the crevasse. The three of them set up a three-way pulley system. Laboriously, my teammates begin to haul me up, inches at a time, out of what nearly became my tomb. I continue to focus on the delicately shifting shades of blue in the ice as I draw closer to the surface.
My teammates pull me up to the lip of the crevasse. I repeatedly plunge the pick of my ice axe into the snow and haul myself out, never before as grateful for being on top of a glacier. I stand and gaze up at a mountain to the west, behind which the sun has just set. Snow plumes stream off one of its ridges, turned into red ribbons by the setting sun.
Snowflakes flicker as they float into space. As relief floods my shivering body, I roar in gratitude. Utterly overwhelmed by being alive and surrounded by the beauty of the mountain world, I hug each of my three climbing partners. That was 22 April — Earth Day. In hindsight, I believe the emotion I felt then stemmed in part from something else — a deeper consciousness that the ice I had seen was vanishing. Seven years of climbing in Alaska had provided me with a front-row seat from where I could witness the dramatic impact of human-caused climate disruption.
Each year, we found that the toe of the glacier had shrivelled further. Each year, for the annual early season ice-climbing festival on this glacier, we found ourselves hiking further up the crusty frozen mud left behind by its rapidly retreating terminus. Each year, the parking lot was moved closer to the glacier, only to be left farther away as the ice withdrew. Even sections of Denali — the highest mountain in North America, which stands more than 20, feet tall and is roughly miles from the Arctic Circle — had already undergone startling changes in the ice of its glaciers was disappearing quickly.
O ur planet is rapidly changing, and what we are witnessing is unlike anything that has occurred in human, or even geological, history. Evidence shows that greenhouse gas emissions are causing the Earth to warm 10 times faster than it should, and the ramifications of this are being felt, quite literally, throughout the entire biosphere. The results would be catastrophic. Climate disruption also brings with it extreme weather such as hurricanes and floods.
Earth has not seen current atmospheric CO 2 levels since the Pliocene epoch , some 3m years ago. Three-quarters of that CO 2 will still be here in years. It takes a decade to experience the full warming effects of CO 2 emissions. Even if we stopped all greenhouse gas emissions, it would take another 25, years for most of what is currently in the atmosphere to be absorbed into the oceans.
Climate disruption is progressing faster than ever, and faster than predicted. Seventeen of the 18 hottest years ever recorded have occurred since The distress signals from our overheated planet are all around us, with reports, studies and warnings increasing daily.
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Worst-case prediction made by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change about the rise in temperatures, extreme weather, sea levels and CO 2 levels in the atmosphere have fallen short of reality. Some scientists predict it could rise by as much as 10C by The official website for Game of Thrones on HBO, featuring interviews, schedule information, episode guides and more. The mission of BYUtv is to create purposeful, engaging viewing and listening experiences that entertain, inspire, uplift, and improve families and communities.
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The official website for Cinemax, home of Hollywood hits and action-packed original series. As in Greenland, the ice fields of Ellesmere Island in Canada are also gradually retreating due to warming temperatures. But the Antarctic is still melting. And a rapidly advancing crack in its fourth-largest ice shelf could soon see one of the largest icebergs ever recorded in human history break off into the sea. Scientists agree that global warming causes both the ice in the North and the South Pole to melt.
Air temperatures are climbing, and so are water temperatures. The period of winter where the water is actually cold enough to freeze is getting shorter, which means ice floes are getting smaller. But why are the Arctic and Antarctic melting at such a different pace? Because the Arctic and Antarctic are cold, remote, and full of ice, they are often thought of as nearly the same. The first and most visible difference are the animals that call the frosty lands their home.
Each polar extreme has a unique biome with many species that only survive there. Polar bears live in the Arctic and penguins only in the Antarctic , for example. The second striking contrast is geography. The Arctic is a semi-enclosed ocean and almost completely surrounded by land. This means there is not much space for ice to float around.
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As a result, ice floes frequently bump into each other and pile up into thick ridges. Arctic ice is thicker, and stays frozen longer during summer.
In winter, the sea ice covers up to 15 million square kilometers 6 million square miles , and 7 million square kilometers remain at the end of the summer melt season. The Antarctic is almost the geographic opposite of the Arctic - not just because it's on the other side of the world. The Antarctic consists of land surrounded by an ocean. In the Antarctic, almost all of the sea ice that forms during winter melts during summer.
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In the colder months, up to 18 million square kilometers 7 million square miles of ocean is covered by sea ice, but by the end of the summer, only about 3 million square kilometers of sea ice remains. Growth and thaw of the ice is part of the annual cycle, and small fluctuations in the level of sea ice are normal.
But scientists have observed a constant loss of sea ice in both the Arctic and Antarctic since the early s. This is due to global warming. Since the Arctic is an ocean and consists mostly of sea ice, it has been affected more by rising ocean temperatures than the Antarctic, which consists mostly of ice-covered land.
While the Antarctic has also lost sea ice, scientists discovered that ice is growing in other places. As glaciers in West Antarctica have melted, heavy snowfall in East Antarctica and the interior of West Antarctica led to an increase in ice sheets. Although it seems counterintuitive, accumulation of snow in the Antarctic is in fact a sign of global warming.
The warmer the temperatures are, the more moisture is in the air. And the more moisture there is, the more snow falls. The Antarctic seems to be growing and melting at the same time. But overall, is it expanding or shrinking? This is the part that scientists don't agree about. According to data by the NASA, gains in ice have outweighed the losses from thinning glaciers from to The scientists claim in a study published early May that the gains in ice were three times smaller than suggested , and that the "Antarctica, as a whole, has been contributing to sea level rise.
Researchers started observing the Antarctic via satellite images in the late s. That's not enough time to understand a complex system like the Antarctic, says Ted Scambos, a scientist at the National Snow and Ice Data Center, a research institute affiliated with the University of Colorado. It's easily pushed around by changes of ocean temperatures and changes in the wind pattern," Scambos told DW. The Antarctic was long regarded to be immune to global warming.
But Scambos believes that the response of the planet's southernmost continent is just slower than that of the Arctic. While it might be too early to see a trend, recent headlines are worrying. Levels of sea ice is fluctuating strongly at both the Arctic and the Antarctic.