glaciers Archives - State of the Planet

antarctic ice shelves

Tiny Losses of Ice at Antarctica’s Fringes May Hasten Declines in Interior

A new study shows that even minor deterioration of ice shelves can instantaneously hasten the decline of ice hundreds of miles landward.

by |December 11, 2017

Christine McCarthy: A Cheerleader for the Physics of Ice

Christine McCarthy, a geophysicist at the Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory, scrunches blocks of ice between hunks of rock to study how ice behaves under pressure. Her work provides an important piece of the puzzle of how glaciers move, what makes them speed up, and how they are contributing to sea level rise as the climate warms.

by |June 26, 2017

Iron Chemistry Matters for Ocean Carbon Uptake

An interdisciplinary team of scientists has discovered that, contrary to general scientific belief, iron in nondissolved particle form can stimulate phytoplankton growth, and that the chemical form that particulate iron takes is critical to ocean photosynthesis.

by |June 23, 2017

Palcacocha Icefalls Demonstrate Hazard Vulnerabilities in Peru

In the last week, calving events at Lake Palcacocha in the Peruvian Andes released masses of ice from a glacier on Mount Pucaranra, showing the weakness of the existing infrastructure designed to protect the region from floods.

by |June 12, 2017

Meltwater Lakes Existed Under Antarctic Ice in Ancient Times

In recent years, scientists have discovered hundreds of lakes lying hidden deep beneath the Antarctic ice sheet. Now a team of researchers has found the remains of at least one sub-ice lake that existed when the ice was far more extensive, in sediments on the Antarctic continental shelf.

by |June 1, 2017

The Glaciers Are Going

Glaciers around the world have retreated at unprecedented rates and some have disappeared altogether. The melting of glaciers will affect drinking water supplies, water needed to grow food and supply energy, as well as global sea levels.

by |May 5, 2017
Scientists have discovered that seasonally flowing streams fringe much of Antarctica’s ice. Each red ‘X’ represents a separate drainage. Up to now, such features were thought to exist mainly on the far northerly Antarctic Peninsula (upper left). Their widespread presence signals that the ice may be more vulnerable to melting than previously thought. (Adapted from Kingslake et al., Nature 2017)

Water Is Streaming Across Antarctica

In the first such continent-wide survey, scientists have found extensive drainages of meltwater flowing over parts of Antarctica’s ice during the brief summer. Many of the newly mapped drainages are not new, but the fact they exist at all is significant; they appear to proliferate with small upswings in temperature, so warming projected for this century could quickly magnify their influence on sea level.

by |April 19, 2017

Upcoming Scientific Fieldwork: 2017 and Beyond

On every continent and ocean, Earth Institute field researchers are studying the dynamics of climate, geology, natural hazards, ecology and other subjects with direct applications to the challenges facing humanity.

by |March 6, 2017

Spy Satellites Reveal the Himalayas’ Changing Glaciers – in 3D

Declassified spy satellite images are beginning to provide the first consistent look at how glaciers across the Himalayas are changing and what future water supplies might look like for millions of people.

by |December 12, 2016

Ancient Leaves Link Loss of Antarctic Ice to a CO2 Spike

Twenty-three million years ago, the Antarctic Ice Sheet began to shrink, going from an expanse larger than today’s to one about half its modern size. Ancient fossilized leaves retrieved from a lake bed in New Zealand now show for the first time that carbon dioxide levels increased dramatically over a relatively short period of time as the ice sheet began to deteriorate.

by |October 12, 2016