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Alaska glaciers on the rebound October 14, 2008

Posted by honestclimate in Global Cooling.
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Alaska glaciers on the rebound

From Watts Up with That?, October 14, 2008

Bad weather was good for Alaska glaciers
MASS BALANCE: For decades, summer snow loss has exceeded winter snowfall.


By CRAIG MEDRED


(10/13/08 23:08:04) Two hundred years of glacial shrinkage in Alaska, and then came the winter and summer of 2007-2008. Unusually large amounts of winter snow were followed by unusually chill temperatures in June, July and August.

“In mid-June, I was surprised to see snow still at sea level in Prince William Sound,” said U.S. Geological Survey glaciologist Bruce Molnia. “On the Juneau Icefield, there was still 20 feet of new snow on the surface of the Taku Glacier in late July. At Bering Glacier, a landslide I am studying, located at about 1,500 feet elevation, did not become snow free until early August.

“In general, the weather this summer was the worst I have seen in at least 20 years.”

Never before in the history of a research project dating back to 1946 had the Juneau Icefield witnessed the kind of snow buildup that came this year. It was similar on a lot of other glaciers too.

“It’s been a long time on most glaciers where they’ve actually had positive mass balance,” Molnia said.

That’s the way a scientist says the glaciers got thicker in the middle.

Mass balance is the difference between how much snow falls every winter and how much snow fades away each summer. For most Alaska glaciers, the summer snow loss has for decades exceeded the winter snowfall.

The result has put the state’s glaciers on a long-term diet. Every year they lose the snow of the previous winter plus some of the snow from years before. And so they steadily shrink.

Since Alaska’s glacial maximum back in the 1700s, Molnia said, “I figure that we’ve lost about 15 percent of the total area.”

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http://wattsupwiththat.com/2008/10/14/alaska-glaciers-on-the-rebound

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