Since the 1980’s, Alaska’s Columbia Glacier has been decreasing in size, from 41 miles long to only 34 miles long at present, making it easy for people to predict its continuous degradation. Contrary to this, a study finds that prediction is rather complex that there will be times that the melting will cease, including 2020.
Researchers from University of Colorado Boulder, led by William Colgan, have developed a computer model that predicts the behaviour of the iconic Columbia Glacier, one of the world’s fastest moving glaciers, for 100 to 200 years.
Global warming has caused the large glacier to calve at a faster rate, increasing sea water level, and currently, it is calving 2 miles3 annually, according to Colgan. Scientists were surprised to find out that the glacier’s calving will eventually stop for a while. The recent finding makes it more difficult for the scientists to predict the future sea level rises.
The next step for the researchers is to apply the same models to the Greenland glaciers and determine when they will cease contributing to the sea level rise.
“I think the hope was that once we saw climate change happening, we could act to prevent some irreversible consequences, but now we are only about eight years out from this retreat finishing—it is really sad. There is virtually no chance of the Columbia Glacier recovering its pre-retreat dimensions on human time-scales,” Colgan reflected.