2 Feb 2012

Iconic Glaciers

From Our Changing World, 9:06 pm on 2 February 2012

Tracking West Coast Glaciers

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Brian Anderson monitors the flow and melting of the Franz Josef glacier by measuring stakes that he sinks into the ice at regular intervals. Here, he retrieves a three-metre stake whose top had been flush with the glacier surface a month earlier. During the summer, the glacier loses several metres in height each month. (image V. Meduna)

Temperate alpine glaciers are sensitive indicators of changing temperature and precipitation. Worldwide, most glaciers are retreating at an unprecedented rate, as a result of global-scale warming. During the first half of the last decade, the Franz Josef and Fox glaciers on the West Coast have bucked this trend and advanced, but now, they too are receding.

Brian Anderson and Andrew Mackintosh, at Victoria University’s Antarctic Research Centre, combine long-term and detailed field research with modelling to reconstruct the evolution of New Zealand glaciers during the past 40,000 years and to predict how they might change in the future.

You can also listen to Andrew's presentation on Glaciers and Ice Sheets in a Warming World.