Thursday, April 22, 2010

Extreme Ice Survey

I saw a link on Twitter today, pointing to a site called Extreme Ice Survey (EIS) and thought I would share it with you.

The EIS team is dedicated to documenting the (rapid) changes in glaciers around the world (currently mostly on the northern hemisphere) with amazing time-lapse videos taken over a long time, even several years in some cases.

Glaciers are always melting. In the summer they melt faster because of more sunlight (and higher temperatures) and in the winter they grow because the creation of new ice is much faster than the slow melting in low temperatures.
This is fairly common knowledge and no reason for concern. It's a natural cycle of glaciers.

What's the problem
But with the current rise in temperature the pace of the glacial retreat has increased enormously and some glaciers have crossed certain thresholds, which means that their rate of retreat is increasing all the time.

As more ice melts the surface area of the glacier in contact with the sea increases and more ice can be carried away.
As more ice is removed the remaining ice flows faster because of less resistance and the ice sheet becomes thinner.
As the ice thins, it melts faster.
And a vicious cycle is born.

Columbia Glacier, Alaska

Time-lapse videos
In case you can't really picture this you really should have a look at the truly amazing time-lapse videos of the glaciers. Even if you can, you should watch the videos or see the pictures anyway.

Hopefully we can do something to halt this destruction of glaciers before it's too late.