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[greenyes] Climate Disruption - Glacial Retreat

THE MERCURY (So. Africa)

Climate change taking a toll on glaciers
By Richard Ingham

Paris - Scientists have issued a fresh warning about the effect of climate
change on Antarctica, saying that more than 200 coastal glaciers are in
retreat because of higher temperatures.

Of the 244 marine glaciers that drain inland ice on the Antarctic peninsula,
a region previously identified as vulnerable to global warming, 87 percent
have fallen back over the last half century, according to research by
British experts.

Using 2 000 aerial photos dating back to the late 1940s and 100 satellite
pictures, experts from the British Antarctic Survey (BAS) compiled a record
of glacier-ice shelves and tidewater glaciers along the peninsula - the
tongue of land that juts 800km northwards out of continental Antarctica.

'Since then this pattern has reversed'
Glacier-ice shelves are floating glaciers on the shoreline that are still
connected to the land glaciers from which they flowed.

Tidewater glaciers rest on rock and break off into the ocean when they reach
the water's edge.

Over the last half century, during which time regional temperatures have
risen by around 2°C, these glacier fronts have reversed direction, the
authors note in a study published on Friday in the US weekly journal

Until the mid-1950s, most of the glaciers advanced. For the next decade
after that, they were roughly stable. Since then, though, most have been

In the past five years, the retreat has accelerated, and the pattern of
retreat is widening. It started in the warmer northern tip of the peninsula
and is heading progressively to the colder south as atmospheric temperatures

"Fifty years ago, 62 percent of the glaciers that flowed down from the
mountains to the sea we looked at were slowly growing in length, but since
then this pattern has reversed," said lead author Alison Cook.

The average retreat of the 212 shrinking glaciers has been 600m over 50

But this does not take into account a dramatic acceleration in recent years,
exposing numerous islands that were once ice-smothered.

Peter Anderson, President
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Madison, WI 53705-4964
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