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Glacier shrinkage and global warming

  1. Jun 14, 2009 #1
    While glacier shrinkage is occurring almost everywhere, it's possible this could be reversed in high latitudes if continued global warming (GW) is moderate. This is important, because in the best of circumstances, we will not be able to reverse global warming in the foreseeable future. The best we can hope for is to moderate it.

    The reversal of glacier shrinkage and possible glacier expansion in latitudes above 70-75 degrees would be a direct result of moderate GW leading to increased winter precipitation, all of which would fall as snow. Snowfall and summer melting are the primary determinants of glacier shrinkage or growth. Right now, virtually no winter precipitation falls in interior Antarctica and very little in interior Greenland and the Canadian High Arctic. If the increased winter snowfall in high latitudes can overcome summer melting, mountain and lowland glaciers will grow.

    I'd like to hear other comments on this. I read an article several years ago that an ice free Arctic Ocean could supply a vastly increased amount of moisture for glacier growth (but I can't locate it right now). If, as is likely, the summer Arctic ice pack disappears, winter freezing would proceed primarily outward from the continental margins instead of from the central Arctic Ocean, thereby leaving an zone of open water until late in the winter.
  2. jcsd
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