These tiny blue lakes are a big red flag
Image via Wikimedia
Global warming naysayers may start changing their tune as soon as they get a glimpse at a few recent photos from the arctic.
Images of bright blue, “supraglacial” lakes reveal hot spots along the surface of East Antarctica’s Langhovde Glacier. That’s right, the coldest place on Earth is heating up, and its once-stable ice sheets are rapidly losing real estate.
The lakes, also known as meltwater ponds, have been forming in Greenland for several years, causing drainage into the underlying ice, which ultimately leads to ice sheet collapse. According to Gizmodo, the feedback loop powered by supraglacial lakes caused Greenland to lose approximately one trillion tons of ice between 2011 and 2014.
While the accelerating growth of meltwater ponds may be news to some, satellite and meteorological data cited in a new study published in Geophysical Research Letters suggests nearly 8,000 lakes have appeared on the Langhovde Glacier between the summer months of 2000 and 2013.
Global warming has had a tangible effect on the melting ice sheets, but its long-term damage on the East Antarctic glacier is unclear, as lead author of the study Emily Langley tells Gizmodo, “We do not think that the lakes on Langhovde Glacier are at present affecting the glacier, but it will be important to monitor these in the future to see how they evolve with surface air temperature changes.”
Should the lakes continue expanding, the greatest concern would be rising sea levels, as Antarctica’s ice has the potential to raise levels by hundreds of feet upon melting. Add that to the host of possible ways the world could end, and “The Day After Tomorrow” seems less science fiction and more like our future.