Thongchai Thailand

VANISHING GLACIERS

Posted on: February 2, 2021

Skaftafellsjökull Glacier :: Iceland :: Dave Derbis :: Photography

THIS POST IS A CRITICAL REVIEW OF A BBC NEWS ARTICLE ON THE CLIMATE CHANGE ISSUE OF “ICELAND’S VANISHING GLACIERS”. ICELAND’S Skaftafellsjokull  GLACIER IS PICTURED ABOVE.

LINK TO THE ONLINE BBC ARTICLE: https://www.bbc.com/news/science-environment-55346329

Skaftafellsjokull, Skaftafell National Park, Iceland Stock Photo - Alamy

PART-1: WHAT THE SOURCE ARTICLE SAYS

Iceland’s Skaftafellsjokull is a spur from the nation’s Vatnajokull ice cap, which is Europe’s largest glacier. In 1989, photographer Colin Baxter visited the glacier during a family holiday and took a picture of the frozen landscape (THE SECOND PICTURE ABOVE). Colin’s son, Dr Kieran Baxter, returned to the exact location 30 years later: (THE FIRST PICTURE ABOVE). The comparison shows that the glacier had dramatically retreated. Scientists estimate it had shrunk by about 400 square kilometres as a result of climate change.

Comments by Dr Kieran Baxter, a lecturer at the University of Dundee: It is personally devastating to see them change so drastically in the past few decades. On surface appearances, the extent of the climate crisis often remains largely invisible but here we can see clearly the gravity of the situation that is affecting the entire globe. The rate of decline of the glacier over a 30-year period is personally devastating. Globally, the world’s glaciers are considered to be among the most visual indicators of how the world’s climate is warming.

According to US scientists, glaciers have – on average – lost the equivalent of a 24m-slice of ice since 1980. Measuring the actual decline of glaciers is difficult on a global scale as there are a range of factors that affect the rate of melting, such as altitude, precipitation, exposure to the elements, like wind and sunlight. The age of glaciers differ vastly from a few centuries to hundreds of thousands of years. The longevity of glaciers provide a valuable record of past climates, and how the current situation compares with past events. Scientists drill into the glaciers’ ice and extract a “core“. These cores provide a continuous “proxy” year-by-year record of past climates. By analysing components of the ice, such as trapped air bubbles within the ice, researchers can build up a picture of past atmospheric characteristics, such as how much CO2 was in the air, temperature variations, vegetation. This allows scientists to build up a picture of past climates, how it has changed and what we can expect in the future.

The demise of glaciers around the world serves as a double whammy. Not only are regions losing vital sources of drinking water, and irrigation for agriculture, but the world is losing forever a valuable scientific history of the planet’s climates. Our Planet Now & Then is a monthly feature that shows how our planet is changing in a warming world.

CRITICAL COMMENTARY

Eruption in Eyjafjallajökull 2010 | Institute of Earth Sciences
INITIAL ERUPTION OF Eyjafjallajökull 2010
Why Iceland's Eyjafjallajökull Volcano Erupted | Live Science
Eyjafjallajökull 2010

Some relevant geological features of the Arctic and the region in question are described in a related post o this site: LINK: https://tambonthongchai.com/2019/07/01/arctic/ . What we find is that the Arctic region, specifically the area around and under Iceland and Greenland are geologically active. The 2010 eruption of the Eyjafjallajökull  volcano shown in the two images above serves as an example of the kind of geothermal energy that Iceland can be subjected to. Some of the relevant geological features are depicted in the graphic below.

These features include the Mid Arctic Rift system (MARS), the Baffin Bay Labrador rift system(BBLR), the Jan Mayen Trend (JMT), and the Greenland-Iceland Mantle Plume (GIMP). The sea floor in this region, and particularly along the JMT, is not a static bedrock but a very active region of submarine volcanism.

bandicam 2019-07-01 16-29-44-526
RELEVANT GEOLOGICAL FEATURES OF THE ARCTIC

These geological features of this region facilitate significant heat flow from the mantle to the surface. For these reasons, it is not possible to understand ice melt events and glacial decline in Iceland exclusively as atmospheric phenomena. Attribution of such events in Iceland and Greenland can only be made in the context of the greater effect of geological activity.

bandicam 2019-07-02 08-56-16-251
GEOLOGICALLY ACTIVE ELEVATED SEAFLOOR OF A RIFT SYSTEM
SUBMARINE VOLCANISM

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