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Thursday, May 21, 2009

Melting Glaciers causing the Land to Rise Rapidly in AK

The relative sea level around Juneau, Alaska is actually falling, at a rate "among the highest ever recorded," according to a NY Times article, by Cornelia Dean.

Juneau, Alaska

Why is this happening?

Most glaciers in and near Juneau are retreating 30 feet a year or more due to warming. The land underneath the glaciers, now being relieved of billions of tons of glacial weight, has risen much as a cushion regains its shape after someone gets up from a couch. The movement of tectonic plates in the earth's crust is also adding to the land rise, but at a much slower rate.

The land is actually rising so fast that rising seas (a byproduct of global warming) cannot keep pace, so the relative sea level is falling around the Juneau region. Greenland and just a few other locations on the earth have experienced this as well.

The rising land, which is leading to receding water, is also causing some streams and wetlands to dry out. This is also creating more property arguments among neighbors who seeing their acreage increase.

In and around Juneau, "you can walk around and see what was underwater is turning into grassland and eventually into forest," said Dr. Eran Hood, a hydrologist from the University of Alaska Southeast.

Relative to the sea, land here has risen as much as 10 feet in little more than 200 years, according to the 2007 report. As global warming accelerates, the land will continue to rise, perhaps three more feet by 2100, scientists say.

In Gustavus, Alaska the land is rising almost three inches a year, Dr. Bruce Molnia of the USGS said, making it "the fastest-rising place in North America."


The retreat of Muir Glacier, Glacier Bay, Alaska.




1 comment:

  1. hi!

    i also saw this in Al Gore's An Inconvenient Truth. it's not only happening in alaska but in various parts of the world, too.

    i really like your blog, by the way. it shows how much you care for the environment. :D


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