Saturday, January 19, 2008

New knowledge about glacier behavior

I wasn't aware that the behavior of outlet glaciers was still clouded in mystery, but from what I can understand from this ScienceDaily article, there have been some unexplained behavior.

Alaska Glacier Speed-up Tied To Internal Plumbing Issues, Says Study

A University of Colorado at Boulder study indicates meltwater periodically overwhelms the interior drainpipes of Alaska's Kennicott Glacier and causes it to lurch forward, similar to processes that may help explain the acceleration of glaciers observed recently on the Greenland ice sheet that are contributing to global sea rise.

Basically, glaciers have some paths through which water can travel, but occasionally, those paths might not be enough, and the whole glacier moves. This has probably started to happen more frequently because of the increased amount of melting that happens because of the increased temperatures.

The study was published in a new monthly scientific journal, Nature Geoscience. To my surprise, it's possible to access the full paper: Response of glacier basal motion to transient water storage

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