Greenland More Vulnerable to Climate Change than Thought
A new model developed by researchers at the Univ. of Cambridge has shown that despite its apparent stability, the massive ice sheet covering most of Greenland is more sensitive to climate change than earlier estimates have suggested, which would accelerate the rising sea levels that threaten coastal communities worldwide.
In addition to assessing the impact of the increasing levels of melt water created and spilled into the ocean each year as the climate continues to warm, the new model also takes into account the role that the soft, spongy ground beneath the ice sheet plays in its changing dynamics.
Water was crucial to the rise of life on Earth and is also important to evaluating the possibility of life on other planets. Identifying the original source of Earth’s water is key to understanding how life-fostering environments come into being and how likely they are to be found elsewhere. New work from a team, including the Carnegie Institution’s Conel Alexander, has found that much of our Solar System’s water likely originated as ices that formed in interstellar space. Their work is published in Science.
Water is found throughout our Solar System. Not just on Earth, but on icy comets and moons, and in the shadowed basins of Mercury. Water has been found included in mineral samples from meteorites, the Moon and Mars.
At the surface, Antarctica is a motionless and frozen landscape. Yet, hundreds of miles down, the Earth is moving at a rapid rate, new research has shown.
The study, led by Newcastle Univ., and published this week in Earth and Planetary Science Letters, explains for the first time why the upward motion of the Earth’s crust in the Northern Antarctic Peninsula is currently taking place so quickly.
A team of scientists has successfully identified the age of 120,000-year-old Antarctic ice using radiometric krypton dating – a new technique that may allow them to locate and date ice that is more than a million years old.
The ability to discover ancient ice is critical, the researchers say, because it will allow them to reconstruct the climate much farther back into Earth’s history and potentially understand the mechanisms that have triggered the planet to shift into and out of ice ages.
Writing in the journal Icarus this week, Prof. Carl Murray from Queen Mary Univ. of London’s Astronomy Unit reports that recently discovered disturbances at the very edge of Saturn’s outer bright A ring result from a small icy object that formed within the ring and which may be in the process of migrating out of it. His team have nicknamed the object, “Peggy.”
"We hadn’t seen anything like this before," explains Murray. "We may be looking at the act of birth, where this object is just leaving the rings and heading off to be a moon in its own right."
Greenland’s Ice Holds Record of U.S. Clean Air Act’s Success
The rise and fall of acid rain is a global experiment whose results are preserved in the geologic record.
By analyzing samples from the Greenland ice sheet, Univ. of Washington atmospheric scientists found clear evidence of the U.S. Clean Air Act. They also discovered a link between air acidity and how nitrogen is preserved in layers of snow, according to a paper published in PNAS.
Observatory Gives Researchers a Peek Under Great Lakes’ Ice
Guy Meadows loves winter. It gives the director of Michigan Technological Univ.’s Great Lakes Research Center (GLRC) in the cold, snowy Upper Peninsula a chance to do something few others can: study the Great Lakes under a cover of ice.
“Our arctic-like environment provides a wonderful opportunity to make the GLRC a true year-round research facility,” Meadows says. This winter, for example, the GLRC built and deployed a cabled observatory under the ice off the research center’s dock, on the Portage Waterway, which connects two parts of Lake Superior.
Study Makes Area Around Train Tracks Safer in Winter
Results of an EPFL study on ballast projections in exceptional winter conditions have enabled Swiss Federal Railways (SBB) to set-up measures to improve safety around the tracks.
SBB transports close to one million passengers per day, by any weather even in tough winter conditions. In 2012, striving to better safety, SBB mandated the EPFL Transportation Center to study the phenomenon of ballast projection by very cold weather. The results from this study have enabled SBB to undertake measures of improvement.
Engineers at Carlos III Univ. have designed an optical sensor that detects how much salt is on road surfaces in real time. This avoids the need to spread the substance excessively, because although this prevents ice from forming on roads, it can also harm vehicles, infrastructure and the environment.
It is common to spread salt on roads to prevent ice and the hazards it can entail for traffic. This preventive treatment is based on weather forecasts, but does not take into account that the road can already have enough salt, scattered during previous frost and snowfall.
Engineering Enables Ice Castles; Nature Makes Them Beautiful
Farming is tough during a New Hampshire winter — unless you’re growing icicles.
At the base of Loon Mountain in Lincoln, an ice castle not unlike the frosty palace in the Disney movie “Frozen” is rising from the ground, one icicle at a time. It’s one of three ice castles being built by the same company — the others are in Breckinridge, Colo., and Midway, Utah — this winter.
Droplet Find May Aid Ice Prevention, Wing Efficiency
Those who study hydrophobic materials — water-shedding surfaces such as those found in nature and created in the laboratory — are familiar with a theoretical limit on the time it takes for a water droplet to bounce away from such a surface. But MIT researchers have now found a way to burst through that perceived barrier, reducing the contact time by at least 40 percent.
Their finding is reported in a paper in the journal Nature co-authored by Kripa Varanasi, the Doherty Associate Professor of Mechanical Engineering at MIT, along with James Bird, a former MIT postdoc who is now an assistant professor of mechanical engineering at Boston Univ., former MIT postdoc Rajeev Dhiman and recent MIT PhD recipient Hyukmin Kwon.
Arctic Sea Ice is Sixth Lowest, But Better than 2012
The amount of ice in the Arctic Ocean shrank this summer to the sixth lowest level, but that’s much higher than last year’s record low.
The ice cap at the North Pole melts in the summer and grows in winter; its general shrinking trend is a sign of global warming. The National Snow and Ice Data Center says that Arctic ice was at 1.97 million square miles when it stopped melting late last week.
Burning Ice Makes Potable Water from Oil, Gas Production
In the midst of an intensifying global water crisis, scientists are reporting development of a more economical way to use one form of the “ice that burns” to turn very salty wastewater from fracking and other oil and gas production methods into water for drinking and irrigation. The study on the method, which removes more than 90 percent of the salt, appears in the journal ACS Sustainable Chemistry & Engineering.
The intensity of the jets of water ice and organic particles that shoot out from Saturn’s moon Enceladus depends on the moon’s proximity to the ringed planet, according to data obtained by NASA’s Cassini spacecraft.
The finding adds to evidence that a liquid water reservoir or ocean lurks under the icy surface of the moon. This is the first clear observation the bright plume emanating from Enceladus’ south pole varies predictably. The findings are detailed in a scientific paper in this week’s edition of Nature.
Supraglacial lakes – bodies of water that collect on the surface of an ice sheet – lubricate the bottom of the sheet when they drain, causing it to flow faster. Differences in how the lakes drain can impact glacial movement’s speed and direction, researchers from The City College of New York (CCNY), Univ. of Cambridge and Los Alamos National Laboratory report in Environmental Research Letters.
"Knowledge of the draining mechanisms allows us to improve our understanding of how surface melting can impact sea-level rise, not only through the direct contribution of meltwater from the surface, but also through the indirect contribution on the mass loss through ice dynamics," says Marco Tedesco, the principal investigator and lead author.