EARTH 114 Lecture 8: EARTH 114 Lecture 8

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University of Michigan - Ann Arbor
Earth and Environmental Sciences
Jamie Gleason

Lecture 8 How is climate change affecting the cryosphere and sea level? o Dramatically. o Most glaciers and parts of major ice sheets are melting or losing mass o Sea level is on the rise o Effects are (surprisingly) nonuniform Changes in cryosphere o Cryosphere: portion of earth where H 2 is ice o Greenland ice sheet is the largest body of ice inthe northern hemisphere Most of earths surface H 2 is in the oceans, but 2 of Earths water is currently locked up as ice on the continents o Ice is 2 of the hydrosphere Greenland and Antarctic Ice Sheets o Ice sheets are huge continent sized glaciers that build up on land over 1000s of years and flow outward under their own weight o Are greenland and antarctica losing mass Yes o GRACEA and GRACEB are satellites that measure small changes in Earths gravity field over time; scientists analyze relative motion of the 2 satellites to quantify change in mass of the ice sheets o Gravity measurements by GRACE show an acceleration of ice loss in Greenland and West Antarctica Certain sectors of antarctica seem to be stressed Antarctica o Contains most of the ice on earth o Antarctica, on average, is the coldest, driest, and windiest continent, and also has the highest average elevation of all the continents Antarctic Ice Shelves o Are the floating extensions of the ice sheet o They help buttress the glaciers behind them on land, slowing their flow to the sea o West antarctic ice sheet loss has begun to accelerate dramatically o Mass loss is through acceleration of glacial ice streams that lead to the sea Antarctic Ice Loss o Rapid disintegration of ice shelves around the Antarctic Peninsula probably relate to warming of both air and oceans and may contribute to faster flow of ice out of sea from ice sheet o East antarctica appears to be stable o West antarctica is more unstable Antarctic Climate Change o Temp averages are well below freezing even at sea level o Parts of Antarctica have been warming at 5x global avg o CONCERN is destabilization of land based ice sheet by disintegration of floating ice shelves
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