January 26, 2023

More Damaging Than Previously Thought: Glaciers Might Not Be Able To Recover From Climate Change

A fracture in Petermann Ice Shelf was observed by a global group of scientists throughout the Oden exploration in 2019. These fractures can ultimately grow across the whole ice shelf, causing the release of big icebergs into the ocean and potentially separation of the ice shelf. Credit: Martin Jakobsson
Ice shelves are drifting extensions of glaciers. A new research study, published in Nature Communications, found that if Greenlands second-largest ice rack breaks up, it might not recover unless Earths future environment cools considerably..
A group of researchers from Stockholm University and the University of California, Irvine investigated whether the Petermann Ice Shelf in northern Greenland might recover from a future breakup triggered by climate modification. They utilized a complex computer system model to predict the ice shelfs possible healing.
” Even if Earths environment stopped warming, it would be difficult to rebuild this ice rack once it has actually broken down,” says Henning Åkesson, who led the research study at Stockholm University.

These fractures can eventually grow throughout the entire ice rack, leading to the release of big icebergs into the ocean and potentially separation of the ice shelf. Ice racks decrease mass loss from our polar ice sheets. Petermann is one of Greenlands couple of enduring ice racks, and it is being carefully kept an eye on by professionals throughout the world after Manhattan-sized icebergs broke off from the ice shelf in 2010 and 2012, leading Petermann to lose 40% of its floating ice rack. Researchers are afraid that extra ice shelf breakdown, or even collapse, might quicken ice circulation from the interior ice sheet. “If they are not, near-future warming of the polar oceans might push the ice shelves safeguarding Earths ice sheets into a brand-new pulled back high-discharge state which may be extremely hard to recover from.”.

” If Petermanns ice shelf is lost, we would need to go back in time towards a cooler environment similar to the duration before the commercial revolution to regrow Petermann,” Åkesson says.
Ice racks reduce mass loss from our polar ice sheets. These gatekeepers thereby restrict sea-level rise triggered by environment warming. “The reasoning to avoid separation of ice shelves in the first location ought to be clearer than ever”, Åkesson says.
Glaciers are quickly melting.
Petermann is among Greenlands couple of surviving ice racks, and it is being carefully kept an eye on by professionals throughout the world after Manhattan-sized icebergs broke off from the ice shelf in 2010 and 2012, leading Petermann to lose 40% of its drifting ice rack. Researchers are scared that extra ice shelf breakdown, or perhaps collapse, may speed up ice flow from the interior ice sheet. In 2018, a brand-new crack in the center of the ice shelf was found, raising additional concerns for Petermanns health.
Swedish icebreaker Oden at the front of Petermann Ice Shelf in 2019. The brand-new study reveals that if the ice rack separate, it will be difficult to restore it. Credit: Martin Jakobsson.
Ice-sheet experts are concerned.
While this research study focused on northwestern Greenlands biggest glacier, another severe concern is that the larger ice racks found in Antarctica might be tough to develop back also, must they separate too.
” This is simply the very first action, however chances are that our findings are not distinct for Petermann Glacier and Greenland.” Åkesson says. “If they are not, near-future warming of the polar oceans might press the ice shelves protecting Earths ice sheets into a brand-new retreated high-discharge state which might be exceedingly difficult to recuperate from.”.
The ice-sheet professionals stress that we require to select exactly how ice shelves break up, and how much more warming they now can withstand prior to they fall apart.
Recommendation: “Petermann ice rack might not recover after a future separation” by Henning Åkesson, Mathieu Morlighem, Johan Nilsson, Christian Stranne and Martin Jakobsson, 9 May 2022, Nature Communications. DOI: 10.1038/ s41467-022-29529-5.

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