TOMapleLaughs Posted October 27, 2015 Share Posted October 27, 2015 Should be interesting to see if and when the research is capped.(Edit: I don't usually prop up some site for clicks, but in this case nytimes outdid themselves. The site below is beautifully done.)http://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2015/10/27/world/greenland-is-melting-away.html?hp&action=click&pgtype=Homepage&module=photo-spot-region®ion=top-news&WT.nav=top-news&_r=0 ON THE GREENLAND ICE SHEET — The midnight sun still gleamed at 1 a.m. across the brilliant expanse of the Greenland ice sheet. Brandon Overstreet, a doctoral candidate in hydrology at the University of Wyoming, picked his way across the frozen landscape, clipped his climbing harness to an anchor in the ice and crept toward the edge of a river that rushed downstream toward an enormous sinkhole.If he fell in, “the death rate is 100 percent,” said Mr. Overstreet’s friend and fellow researcher, Lincoln Pitcher.But Mr. Overstreet’s task, to collect critical data from the river, is essential to understanding one of the most consequential impacts of global warming. The scientific data he and a team of six other researchers collect here could yield groundbreaking information on the rate at which the melting of Greenland ice sheet, one of the biggest and fastest-melting chunks of ice on Earth, will drive up sea levels in the coming decades. The full melting of Greenland’s ice sheet could increase sea levels by about 20 feet.“We scientists love to sit at our computers and use climate models to make those predictions,” said Laurence C. Smith, head of the geography department at the University of California, Los Angeles, and the leader of the team that worked in Greenland this summer. “But to really know what’s happening, that kind of understanding can only come about through empirical measurements in the field.”For years, scientists have studied the impact of the planet’s warming on the Greenland and Antarctic ice sheets. But while researchers have satellite images to track the icebergs that break off, and have created models to simulate the thawing, they have little on-the-ground information and so have trouble predicting precisely how fast sea levels will rise.Their research could yield valuable information to help scientists figure out how rapidly sea levels will rise in the 21st century, and thus how people in coastal areas from New York to Bangladesh could plan for the change.Each year, the federal government spends about $1 billion to support Arctic and Antarctic research by thousands of scientists like Dr. Smith and his team. The agency officials who receive that money from Congress, including the directors of the National Science Foundation, NASA and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, say the research is essential for understanding the changes that will affect the world’s population and economies for more than a century.But the research is under increasing fire by some Republican leaders in Congress, who deny or question the scientific consensus that human activities contribute to climate change. Leading the Republican charge on Capitol Hill is Representative Lamar Smith of Texas, the chairman of the House science committee, who has sought to cut $300 million from NASA’s budget for earth science and has started an inquiry into some 50 National Science Foundation grants. On Oct. 13, the committee subpoenaed scientists at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, seeking more than six years of internal deliberations, including “all documents and communications” related to the agency’s measurement of climate change.Any cuts could directly affect the work of Dr. Smith and his team, who are supported by a three-year, $778,000 grant from NASA, which must cover everything, including researchers’ salaries, flights, food, computers, scientific instruments and camping, safety and extreme cold-weather gear. Every scientist, Dr. Smith said, is keenly aware that the research costs “a tremendous amount of taxpayer money.”They might even learn, Dr. Smith said, that the water is refreezing within the ice sheet and that sea levels are actually rising more slowly than models project.For three days and three nights, the scientists continued to measure the river, as up to 430,000 gallons of water a minute poured off the ice and into the moulin. On the final morning, the team, tired but elated, gathered by the river as the boogie board made its final trip. By then, Mr. Ryan’s backup drone had safely completed its mapping mission. Mr. Overstreet broke open a celebratory bag of dried mangoes — a lavish treat for the ice campers.“It’s hard to make the choice to come on projects like this, but everything in my life has prepared me to come out here,” Mr. Overstreet said. “We go from battling the river to working with it, and then we learn so much from it.” Link to comment Share on other sites More sharing options...
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