Thursday, November 29th, 2012
Glacier Loss In Alaska And Around The World

A new study by the University of Colorado at Boulder predicts the rate of icebergs breaking off of Alaska’s Columbia Glacier will significantly slow within the next decade. It will be interesting to see how the slowdown of the dramatic discharge of ice in Alaska will affect sea level change. Alaska glaciers, like Tracy Arm’s South Sawyer Glacier pictured here, have been shedding about 46 billion tons of ice each year, making it the world’s single biggest contributor to glacier-fed sea level rise outside of Greenland or Antarctica, according to another study by the University of Colorado at Boulder. But Alaska is a small player in the global ice melt, producing only about 8.5 percent of the world’s annual glacier shrinkage of 526 billion tons. Most of Alaska’s annual ice loss occurs in the snow-bound coastal ranges that crown the Gulf of Alaska, and it’s a huge chunk — contributing about one third of the 150 billion tons of total annual ice loss from 18 regions around the globe outside of the two much larger continental sources. Only shrinkage by the glaciers on Baffin Island (about 35 billion tons) and the Ellesmere Island area (about 34 billion tons) rival the …

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