By Chelsea Harvey
3 April 2017
(Washington Post) – Melting glaciers, from Greenland to Antarctica, have become symbols of global warming — and monitoring their retreat is one major way scientists are keeping tabs on the progress of climate change.
Now, scientists are trying to bring the issue a little closer to home by using time-lapse photos to show the effects of climate change are already occurring.
A paper published last week by the Geological Society of America presents dramatic before-and-after photographs of glaciers around the world over the last decade. Most of the photos were taken by photographer James Balog as part of a project called the Extreme Ice Survey, which began documenting changing glaciers around the world in 2007. The project was featured in the 2012 documentary, Chasing Ice. [more]
ABSTRACT: This article provides concise documentation of the ongoing retreat of glaciers, along with the implications that the ice loss presents, as well as suggestions for geoscience educators to better convey this story to both students and citizens. We present the retreat of glaciers—the loss of ice—as emblematic of the recent, rapid contraction of the cryosphere.
Satellites are useful for assessing the loss of ice across regions with the passage of time. Ground-based glaciology, particularly through the study of ice cores, can record the history of environmental conditions present during the existence of a glacier.
Repeat photography vividly displays the rapid retreat of glaciers that is characteristic across the planet. This loss of ice has implications to rising sea level, greater susceptibility to dryness in places where people rely upon rivers delivering melt water resources, and to the destruction of natural environmental archives that were held within the ice.
Warming of the atmosphere due to rising concentrations of greenhouse gases released by the combustion of fossil fuels is causing this retreat. We highlight multimedia productions that are useful for teaching this story effectively. As geoscience educators, we attempt to present the best scholarship as accurately and eloquently as we can, to address the core challenge of conveying the magnitude of anthropogenic impacts, while also encouraging optimistic determination on the part of students, coupled to an increasingly informed citizenry.
We assert that understanding human perturbation of nature, then choosing to engage in thoughtful science-based decision-making, is a wise choice. This topic comprised “Savor the Cryosphere,” a Pardee Keynote Symposium at the 2015 Annual Meeting in Baltimore, Maryland, USA, for which the GSA recorded supporting interviews and a webinar.
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