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.
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.
Aaron Putnam’s research in the California Sierras is part of an effort to study glaciers around the world—in Europe’s Alps, the Himalayas, Mongolia, Patagonia, New Zealand. He’s working on an important piece of the worldwide climate puzzle that can help us understand what’s ahead in a warming world.