“Land Rebound” May Slow Glacial Retreat by 40%

(p. A5) The complex relationship between Antarctica’s glaciers and the land on which they rest may help slow the rate of ice loss in the long term, according to a new method for modeling such interactions.

. . .

The new model takes into account, at a higher resolution than previous ones, the way land springs up after ice is removed, according to glaciologists. (Models break up geographical areas into grids, like pixels in a photo. The smaller the area those grids represent, the more detail a model has.) The land rebound helps stabilize glaciers by propping them up at the point where the frozen rivers start to float. The ground’s hold increases friction, which steadies them.

The phenomenon has been documented and studied in other parts of the world, including North America, which was once covered with glaciers.

The effect is greatest after a lot of a glacier’s mass has been lost, according to the study, which was published Thursday [April 25, 2019] in the journal Science.

. . .

The team focused on West Antarctica’s Thwaites Glacier, which scientists believe is especially vulnerable to climate change. Earlier this year, NASA scientists used radar to find a massive gap between its ice and the bedrock, where water could creep in and melt it from below.

Within the next 100 years, the rebound of land beneath Thwaites could slow down the glacier’s retreat by about 1%, according to the study. But by 2350, that effect could hover around 40%, as more mass is lost and the earth has more opportunity to rebound.

For the full story, see:

Daniela Hernandez. “Study Sees Slower Glacial Retreat.” The Wall Street Journal (Friday, April 26, 2019): A5.

(Note: bracketed date, and ellipses, added.)

(Note: the online version of the story has the date April 25, 2019, and has the title “New Model Suggests Slower Decline of Glaciers.”)

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.