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What is Antarctic ice telling us? This UW scientist can translate | KUOW
Tuesday, March 15, 2022
Sea ice around Antarctica is reaching record lows in 2022. The ice is melting from the bottom and high winds are pushing sheets of ice further apart. The more that ice melts, the more sea levels rise. That means more floods, storm surges, and erosion. Eric Steig, professor of Earth and space sciences at the UW, is interviewed. Read More
Landslide closes highway 18 | KIRO 7
Thursday, March 3, 2022
David Montgomery, professor of Earth and space sciences at the UW, says that rain can lead fairly rapidly to shallow landslides. Read More
The dangerous way tourism is polluting Antarctica and accelerating melting | Inverse
Wednesday, February 23, 2022
In a new study, published this week in the journal Nature Communications, a team of researchers has documented how black carbon, or soot, from the combustion engines that power generators, snowmobiles, tour boats, and more are leaving a mark on Antarctica. Steve Warren, professor emeritus of Earth and space sciences at the UW, is quoted. Read More
You don't have to be a climber to explore the Cascades' mightiest glaciers | KING 5
Tuesday, February 15, 2022
Cascade Glacier Walking Tours allows hikers with no previous experience to traverse and explore some of the Cascades' mightiest glaciers in comfort and safety alongside a trained guide. Taryn Black, a UW doctoral student in Earth and space sciences, is interviewed. Read More
Giant iceberg blocks scientists' study of 'Doomsday Glacier' | Associated Press
Thursday, February 3, 2022
Antarctica's so-called Doomsday Glacier, nicknamed because it is huge and coming apart, is mostly thwarting an international effort to figure out how dangerously vulnerable it is. Ian Joughlin, a glaciologist at the UW, is quoted. Read More
Activity under Three Sisters volcanic region monitored by experts | KING 5
Wednesday, February 2, 2022
The ground is swelling under the Three Sisters volcanic region in central Oregon. The U.S. Geological Survey issued a statement that the rate of uplift in an area 12 miles across has risen nearly an inch between June of 2020 and August of 2021. Yet, this latest uplift comes after some 25 years of activity. Scientists say it's happening as lava is filling a space underground. Harold Tobin, director of the Pacific Northwest Seismic Network and professor of Earth and space sciences at the UW, is interviewed. Read More
Lightning: US deaths hit record low in 2021, while the Arctic saw far more bolts than usual | USA Today
Wednesday, February 2, 2022
2021 was a record year for lightning, both in the U.S. - where deaths reached an all-time record low - and in the northern reaches of the Arctic, which saw a bonanza of bolts last year. Robert Holzworth, professor of Earth and space sciences at the UW, is quoted. Read More
Why does snow glow blue? How could a fly possibly survive high-elevation elements? Join us for an exploration of Washington's winter wonders. | The Seattle Times
Monday, January 31, 2022
The Seattle Times explores the physical phenomena and physiological mysteries of Washington winters. The UW's Bernard Hallet, professor emeritus of Earth and space sciences; John Marzluff, professor of environmental and forest sciences; Thomas Hinckley, professor emeritus of environmental and forest sciences; and John Tuthill, assistant professor of physiology and biophysics, are quoted. Read More
MyShake earthquake early warning app now available for Washington state residents | KOMO 4
Friday, January 28, 2022
The MyShake app is now available to download for Washington state residents who want to receive as much early notice as possible before the ground starts shaking during an earthquake. Harold Tobin, director of the Pacific Northwest Seismic Network and professor of Earth and space sciences at the UW, is interviewed. Read More
Glaciers are squishy, holding slightly more ice than thought
Wednesday, January 26, 2022
Glacier ice is usually thought of as brittle. You can drill a hole in an ice sheet, like into a rock, and glaciers crack and calve, leaving behind vertical ice cliffs.
But new University of Washington research shows that glaciers are also slightly compressible, or squishy. This compression over the huge expanse of an ice sheet -- like Antarctica or Greenland -- makes! the overall ice sheet more dense and lowers the surface by tens of feet compared to what would otherwise be expected, according to results published Jan. 19 in the Journal of Glaciology.
"It's like finding hidden ice," said author Brad Lipovsky, a UW assistant professor of Earth and space sciences. "In a sense, we discovered a big piece of missing ice that wasn't accounted for correctly."“Density matters: Ice compressibility and glacier mas!s estimation” in Journal of Glaciology
Compression of the ice lowers the surface by up to 37 feet (11.3 meters) on the Antarctic ice sheet and by up to 19 feet (5.8 meters) on the Greenland ice sheet. Averaged across the entire Antarctic ice sheet, the surface is lower by 2.3 feet (0.7 meters), which represents 30,200 gigatons of additional ice. For Greenland, the surface of the ice sheet is lowered by an average of 2.6 feet (0.8 meters), which represents 3,000 gigatons of ice.
The mass of the ice sheet is only partly to blame: Since a glacier's temperature increases with depth, thermal compression makes the colder ice, near the surface of the ice sheet, denser, squishing the ice almost as much as its weight.
Together, the combined effects of gravitational and thermal compression add about 0.2% to the total mass of the ice sheet. Though that sounds small, including this effect will help improve calculations of glacier changes over time -- especially as the n!ewest satellites can make precise measurements of glaciers' elevation to monitor their responses to climate change.
"The long-term behavior of the ice is that it flows, and it also slides a bit. But at the same time, if you hit the ice with a hammer, it goes bing, bing, bing," Lipovsky said. "On short timescales the glacier is a solid, and on long timescales it's a fluid."
!Currently even the long-term climate models don't account for the compression, which becomes a bigger effect for large ice sheets like in Antarctica and Greenland.
"In the long-term flow models, ice is always treated as incompressible. I think if you had really pressed people, and said, 'There's seismic pressure waves in glaciers, they must be compressible,' they would have agreed. But it's not something people have been thinking about," Lipovsky said.
The additional water content probably doesn't matter to future sea-level rise -- the new results might add 8 inches (20 centimeters) to the projected 260 feet (80 meters) of sea level rise in the very unlikely event of all the planet's glaciers melting, Lipovsky said.
But compressibility affects measurements of the difference in glacier elevation between winter, when they are weighted with fresh snow, and summer, when much of that snow has drained off. These seasonal measurements are used to monitor how the gl!acier ischanging over time. The new study estimates that adding ice compressibility could eliminate about one-tenth of the error around these estimates, improving the monitoring of large ice sheets as they respond to climate change.
"Going forward, I hope this will become a correction that's more commonly accounted for," Lipovsky said.
For more information, contact Lipovsky at firstname.lastname@example.org.Read More