Pre-JIRP Readings: Rapid Wastage of Alaska Glaciers and Their Contribution to Rising Sea Level

For this blog post, we'll provide some key points to think about rather than the questions as in previous posts.  We look forward to some stimulating discussions in Juneau!

The reading this week is as follows:

Arendt, A.A., Echelmeyer, K.A., Harrison, W.D., Lingle, C.S., Valentine, V.B., 2002. Rapid Wastage of Alaska Glaciers and Their Contribution to Rising Sea Level. Science 297, 382–386.

Alaska represents only a small fraction of the world's glacier ice, but is among the largest sources to new water contributions to sea level rise.  To understand why, think about two buckets filled with the same amount of water.  Its a hot sunny day, and you and the buckets are hanging out in a parking lot. You trip over one bucket and spill it on the ground.  That spilled water will evaporate much more quickly than the water in the bucket, in part because the surface area to volume ratio has changed.  This is a good analogy to why Earth's mountain glaciers have more rapid rates of change than do the ice sheets. Climate and geography play a part as well, but this is a good place to start when thinking about differences between glaciers and ice sheet mass balance.

Another aspect to consider as you read this paper are the research methods used and possible errors associated with them.  All methods have errors, which can significantly impact research results.

That's all for today.  See you all soon!