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Posted Fri Dec 10 2010: from Nature, via EnvironmentalResearchWeb:
Greenland ice sheet flow driven by short-term weather extremes, not gradual warming: UBC research
Sudden changes in the volume of meltwater contribute more to the acceleration - and eventual loss - of the Greenland ice sheet than the gradual increase of temperature, according to a University of British Columbia study.... Now a new study, to be published tomorrow in the journal Nature, shows that a steady meltwater supply from gradual warming may in fact slow down glacier flow, while sudden water input could cause glaciers to speed up and spread, resulting in increased melt.... "Sudden water input caused by short term extremes - such as massive rain storms or the draining of a surface lake - however, cannot easily be accommodated by existing channels. This allows it to pool and lubricate the bottom of the glaciers and accelerate ice loss," says Schoof, who holds a Canada Research Chair in Global Process Modeling. "This certainly doesn't mitigate the issue of global warming, but it does mean that we need to expand our understanding of what's behind the massive ice loss we're worried about," says Schoof.
[Read more stories about: weather extremes, arctic meltdown, melting glaciers]

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'Doc Jim says:
Thank goodness gradual warming doesn't create local weather extremes!

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