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Research shows that glaciers can expand in the ‘blink of an eye’ geologically.
Scientists have discovered that a fast-moving glacier on the Greenland Ice Sheet grew rapidly during a period when the Earth was cooling several thousand years ago.
The finding indicates that ice sheets can not only shrink in response to abrupt warming, but can also reverse course and expand in response to abrupt cooling.
The study found that twice in the early Holocene period – 9,200 years ago and then 8,200 years ago – Jakobshavn Isbrae, a glacier on Greenland’s west coast, overcame rapid shrinkage to expand during brief cooling periods that lasted little more than a century.
Lead researcher Jason Briner, an associate professor of geology at the University at Buffalo, said: ‘When we look at the geologic record, we are finding out that the large rivers of ice that drain ice sheets are extremely sensitive to climate change, both warming and cooling.
In their most recent study, Briner and his students dated glacially deposited sediment from the bottom of the Pluto Lake basin, they found were three distinct layers – a single layer of rocky material about 9,200 years old, sandwiched between two layers of dead plants.
The pattern implies that Jakobshavn was in a cycle of advance and retreat.
It would abruptly expand to the edge of the lake and dump melt water and rocky debris, forming the middle sediment layer. Later, when the region warmed and Jakobshavn receded, plant matter began accumulating, returning the lake bottom to its usual composition.
In addition to Pluto Lake, the scientists studied a moraine, a trail of debris marking Jakobshavn’s path of advance during a different period of growth.
The cooling periods that coincided with the glacier’s growth cycles could be measured on a centennial scale – the blink of an eye in the context of geology.
In other words, the glacier both grew and receded without any help from humans.
It’s a cycle. It’s a cycle. It’s a cycle. Humans have nothing to do with it.
I haven’t had time to research it yet, but I’m guessing that those times when the Jakobshavn Isbrae glacier advanced correspond with times of low sunspot activity such as the Maunder Minimum, and with high volcanic activity.
Thanks to Alan Stover for this link
“This article was published in December 2011,” says Alan. “It makes a good point about how quickly an ice formation can increase in size but of course this article will be lost in the archives when it comes to the current flap over the “Greenland Ice Melt.”
11 May - 4 sunspots
I receive no funding from any company, corporation, or organization. Thanks, Robert
Good news! A publisher in Italy has now translated Not by Fire but by Ice into Italian.
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