The findings from the Natural Environment Research Council-funded project were published this week (September 21) in the well-respected US journal Geophysical Research Letters.
And the results confirm climate change experts’ fears – indicating a number of glaciers in western Svalbard, ranging in size from 5-1000km², are melting and losing mass at an accelerating rate.
The Swansea team, comprising Dr Tim James, Professor Tavi Murray, Dr Adrian Luckman, and PhD student Nick Barrand of the School of Environment and Society, has been carrying out the research with colleagues from the Norwegian Polar Institute in Tromsø since 2003.
They used data from digital elevation models (DEMs) made from airborne lidar (laser scanner) data collected by the NERC Airborne Research and Survey Facility and digital photogrammetry.
Their research found the average thinning rate for the two glaciers with the best data, Midtre Lovenbreen and Slakbreen, has increased steadily since 1936 and at both, the most recent thinning rates to 2005 are more than four times the average for the first measurement period.
The team found thinning of several glaciers along the previously measured Wedel Jarls Land has also increased, doubling between the period 1990-1996 and 1996-2002.
Polar Medal recipient Professor Tavi Murray, Head of the Glaciology Group at Swansea University, said: “These dramatic rates of thinning have occurred because climate warming has resulted in both higher temperatures and less snowfall. And predictions are for even faster warming in the Arctic.
“Small glaciers like these only cover just a tiny fraction of the Earth. But many are melting rapidly, and they are one of the biggest contributors to sea level rise. These faster rates of melt imply an increased sea level contribution from the Svalbard glaciers.
“What concerns us are the environmental consequences if this acceleration of thinning continues at current rates. For animals living this far north there is really nowhere colder for them to move to.
“The team is moving on to measure changes around the edge of the larger Greenland ice sheet. Under the new Greenland Ice Margin Prediction, Stability and Evolution (GLIMPSE) project, our methods will be used to help understand the thinning of outlet glaciers there, some of which are thinning at rates of more than a metre a year.”
Bethan Evans | alfa
Predicting unpredictability: Information theory offers new way to read ice cores
07.12.2016 | Santa Fe Institute
Sea ice hit record lows in November
07.12.2016 | University of Colorado at Boulder
In recent years, lasers with ultrashort pulses (USP) down to the femtosecond range have become established on an industrial scale. They could advance some applications with the much-lauded “cold ablation” – if that meant they would then achieve more throughput. A new generation of process engineering that will address this issue in particular will be discussed at the “4th UKP Workshop – Ultrafast Laser Technology” in April 2017.
Even back in the 1990s, scientists were comparing materials processing with nanosecond, picosecond and femtosesecond pulses. The result was surprising:...
Have you ever wondered how you see the world? Vision is about photons of light, which are packets of energy, interacting with the atoms or molecules in what...
A multi-institutional research collaboration has created a novel approach for fabricating three-dimensional micro-optics through the shape-defined formation of porous silicon (PSi), with broad impacts in integrated optoelectronics, imaging, and photovoltaics.
Working with colleagues at Stanford and The Dow Chemical Company, researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign fabricated 3-D birefringent...
In experiments with magnetic atoms conducted at extremely low temperatures, scientists have demonstrated a unique phase of matter: The atoms form a new type of quantum liquid or quantum droplet state. These so called quantum droplets may preserve their form in absence of external confinement because of quantum effects. The joint team of experimental physicists from Innsbruck and theoretical physicists from Hannover report on their findings in the journal Physical Review X.
“Our Quantum droplets are in the gas phase but they still drop like a rock,” explains experimental physicist Francesca Ferlaino when talking about the...
The Max Planck Institute for Physics (MPP) is opening up a new research field. A workshop from November 21 - 22, 2016 will mark the start of activities for an innovative axion experiment. Axions are still only purely hypothetical particles. Their detection could solve two fundamental problems in particle physics: What dark matter consists of and why it has not yet been possible to directly observe a CP violation for the strong interaction.
The “MADMAX” project is the MPP’s commitment to axion research. Axions are so far only a theoretical prediction and are difficult to detect: on the one hand,...
16.11.2016 | Event News
01.11.2016 | Event News
14.10.2016 | Event News
08.12.2016 | Life Sciences
08.12.2016 | Physics and Astronomy
08.12.2016 | Materials Sciences