Video | Business Headlines | Internet | Science | Scientific Ethics | Technology | Search

 


Southern Alps glaciers in state of rapid change

25 November 2013   

Southern Alps glaciers in state of rapid change

Research carried out by Victoria University’s Antarctic Research Centre shows the glaciers of the central Southern Alps are in a state of rapid change with ice volumes set to reduce by up to 60 percent by the end of this century (2100).

Historic records show Franz Josef Glacier retreated three kilometres in the last century and mathematical modeling indicates it is likely to retreat even more this century.

Other glaciers in the region, including Fox Glacier, are declining at similar rates as a result of climatic change says Dr Brian Anderson, a senior research fellow at the Antarctic Research Centre, who is supported by a Marsden Fast Start research grant.

Dr Anderson says mathematical modelling helps him, and other researchers in the team, understand how glaciers have evolved since the last ice age. It also helps them analyse what is occurring now and predict how many glaciers in the Southern Alps will fare in the future.

“It’s important to see the long term picture to really understand what’s going on. That’s because many of our glaciers—Fox and Franz Josef particularly—change so quickly and, apparently, so erratically.

“In the 12 years we’ve been carrying out this study, we’ve seen them rapidly retreat and then rapidly advance. It’s not until we look back over the past century that we see an overall pattern of retreat emerging,” says Dr Anderson.

“Looking ahead, we are likely to see warmer and wetter weather, which means Franz Josef and Fox glaciers will retreat a lot—our best estimate is that they will be seven or eight kilometres shorter than present by 2100.”

The research findings are being collated and published as part of the Antarctic Research Centre’s glacier monitoring project which also involves Dr Ruzica Dadic, Dr Huw Horgan and Associate Professor Andrew Mackintosh.

Together, the researchers are observing and measuring three glaciers—the well-known Franz Josef and Tasman glaciers and the lesser-known Brewster Glacier.

Other collaborators on the Brewster Glacier project are Dr Nicolas Cullen at the University of Otago and Dr Andrew Lorrey at NIWA.

The data gathered is contributing to the University of Zurich’s World Glacier Monitoring Service.

Dr Anderson says: “Already we are seeing issues at Franz Josef Glacier, where walking access has not been possible for more than a year, and tourists are now being flown onto the ice. These are the kinds of things being predicted to happen around the world as glaciers decline and temperatures continue to warm,” he says.
Dr Anderson has travelled to the glaciers of the Southern Alps on a monthly basis for more than a decade. His fieldwork typically involves drilling four-metre long poles into glacier ice and timing how long it takes for the ice around each pole to melt away. Global positioning technology is used to track glacier movement.

Each year, Dr Anderson and his team trek on the upper reaches of Franz Josef Glacier to look down crevasses and gauge how much snow is left after the summer melt. At Brewster Glacier, a small alpine glacier near Haast in South Westland, they use long sticks, called probes, and ground-penetrating radar to measure the depth of the snow.

Earlier this year, Dr Anderson says a 70-metre chunk of ice broke off the terminal face of Tasman glacier, releasing an estimated seven million cubic metres of ice into Tasman Lake.

“Tasman is undergoing rapid decline right now, with large chunks breaking off and falling into Tasman Lake. We are using time-lapse photography to capture these ‘calving’ events as they happen and gather valuable information on ice loss and glacier behaviour at the same time.”

ENDS

© Scoop Media

 
 
 
 
 
Business Headlines | Sci-Tech Headlines

 

Company Results: Air NZ Rides The Tourism Boom With Record Full-Year Earnings

Air New Zealand has ridden the tourism boom and staved off increased competition to deliver the best full-year earnings in its 76-year history. More>>

ALSO:

New PGP: Sheep Milk Industry Gets $12.6M Crown Funding

The Sheep - Horizon Three programme aims to develop "a market driven, end-to-end value chain generating annual revenues of between $200 million and $700 million by 2030," according to a joint statement. More>>

ALSO:

Half Full: Fonterra Raises Forecast Milk Price

Fonterra Co-operative Group Limited today increased its 2016/17 forecast Farmgate Milk Price by 50 cents to $4.75 per kgMS. When combined with the forecast earnings per share range for the 2017 financial year of 50 to 60 cents, the total payout available to farmers in the current season is forecast to be $5.25 to $5.35 before retentions. More>>

ALSO:

Keep Digging: Seabed Ironsands Miner TransTasman Tries Again

The first company to attempt to gain a resource consent to mine ironsands from the ocean floor in New Zealand's Exclusive Economic Zone has lodged a new application containing fresh scientific and other evidence it hopes will persuade regulators after their initial application was turned down in 2014. More>>

Wool Pulled: Duvets Sold As ‘Premium Alpaca’ Mostly Sheep’s Wool

Rotorua business Budge Collection Limited (Budge) and sole director, Sun Dong Kim, were convicted and fined a total of $71,250 in Auckland District Court after each pleading guilty to four charges of misrepresenting how much alpaca fibre was in their duvets. More>>

Reserve Bank: Labour Calls For Monetary Policy To Expand Goals

Labour's comments follow a speech today by RBNZ governor Graeme Wheeler in which Wheeler sought to answer critics who variously say he should stop lowering interest rates, lower them faster, or that inflation-targeting should no longer be the primary goal of the central bank's activities. More>>

ALSO:

BSA Extension And Sunday Morning Ads: Digital Convergence Bill Captures Online Content

Broadcasting Minister Amy Adams has today announced the Government’s plans to update the Broadcasting Act to better reflect today’s converged market... The Government considered four areas as part of its review into content regulation: classification requirements, advertising restrictions, election programming and contestable funding. More>>

ALSO:

Get More From Scoop

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Sci-Tech
Search Scoop  
 
 
Powered by Vodafone
NZ independent news