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Fastest Shrinking Greenland Glacier Growing Again: NASA

"That was kind of a surprise. We kind of got used to a runaway system," said Geological Survey of Denmark and Greenland ice and climate scientist Jason Box

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This 2016 photo provided by NASA shows patches of bare land at the Jakobshavn glacier in Greenland. The major Greenland glacier that was one of the fastest shrinking ice and snow masses on Earth is growing again, a new NASA study finds. VOA

A major Greenland glacier that was one of the fastest shrinking ice and snow masses on Earth is growing again, a new NASA study finds.

The Jakobshavn (YA-cob-shawv-en) glacier around 2012 was retreating about 1.8 miles (3 kilometers) and thinning nearly 130 feet (almost 40 meters) annually. But it started growing again at about the same rate in the past two years, according to a study in Monday’s Nature Geoscience . Study authors and outside scientists think this is temporary.

“That was kind of a surprise. We kind of got used to a runaway system,” said Geological Survey of Denmark and Greenland ice and climate scientist Jason Box. “The good news is that it’s a reminder that it’s not necessarily going that fast. But it is going.”

Box, who wasn’t part of the study, said Jakobshavn is “arguably the most important Greenland glacier because it discharges the most ice in the northern hemisphere. For all of Greenland, it is king.”

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“The good news is that it’s a reminder that it’s not necessarily going that fast. But it is going.” VOA

Cyclical cooling

A natural cyclical cooling of North Atlantic waters likely caused the glacier to reverse course, said study lead author Ala Khazendar, a NASA glaciologist on the Oceans Melting Greenland (OMG) project. Khazendar and colleagues say this coincides with a flip of the North Atlantic Oscillation — a natural and temporary cooling and warming of parts of the ocean that is like a distant cousin to El Nino in the Pacific.

The water in Disko Bay, where Jakobshavn hits the ocean, is about 3.6 degrees cooler (2 degrees Celsius) than a few years ago, study authors said.

While this is “good news” on a temporary basis, this is bad news on the long term because it tells scientists that ocean temperature is a bigger player in glacier retreats and advances than previously thought, said NASA climate scientist Josh Willis, a study co-author. Over the decades the water has been and will be warming from man-made climate change, he said, noting that about 90 percent of the heat trapped by greenhouse gases goes into the oceans.

“In the long run we’ll probably have to raise our predictions of sea level rise again,” Willis said.

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Think of the ocean temperatures near Greenland like an escalator that’s rising slowly from global warming, Khazendar said. VOA

Like an escalator

Think of the ocean temperatures near Greenland like an escalator that’s rising slowly from global warming, Khazendar said. But the natural North Atlantic Oscillation sometimes is like jumping down a few steps or jumping up a few steps. The water can get cooler and have effects, but in the long run it is getting warmer and the melting will be worse, he said.

ALSO READ: Due to Global Warming Mount Everest Melting Glaciers Throw Up Climbers’ Bodies

Four outside scientists said the study and results make sense.

University of Washington ice scientist Ian Joughin, who wasn’t part of the study and predicted such a change seven years ago, said it would be a “grave mistake” to interpret the latest data as contradicting climate change science.

What’s happening, Joughin said, is “to a large extent, a temporary blip. Downturns do occur in the stock market, but overall the long term trajectory is up. This is really the same thing.” (VOA)

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Global Warming Threatens UN Goals of Tackling Inequality, Conflicts

Greenhouse gases have continued to climb, and "climate change is occurring much faster than anticipated," the report said

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Greenhouse gases have continued to climb, and "climate change is occurring much faster than anticipated," the report said. Pixabay

Relentless global warming threatens the potential success of a sweeping set of goals established by the United Nations to tackle inequality, conflict and other ills, officials said on Tuesday. Climate change imperils food supplies, water and places where people live, endangering the U.N. plan to address these world problems by 2030, according to a report by U.N. officials.

Member nations of the U.N. unanimously adopted 17 global development goals in 2015, setting out a wide-ranging “to-do” list tackling such vexing issues as conflict, hunger, land degradation, gender inequality and climate change.

The latest report, which called climate change “the greatest challenge to sustainable development,” came as diplomatic, business and other officials gathered for a high-level U.N. forum to take stock of the goals’ progress.

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Global warming and changing ocean chemistry affect marine nutrients and marine life. VOA

“The most urgent area for action is climate change,” said Liu Zhenmin, U.N. Under-Secretary General for Economic and Social Affairs, in the report.

“The compounded effects will be catastrophic and irreversible,” he said, listing increased extreme weather events, more severe natural disasters and land degradation. “These effects, which will render many parts of the globe uninhabitable, will affect the poor the most.”

Progress has been made on lowering child mortality, boosting immunization rates and global access to electricity, the report said. Yet extreme poverty, hunger and inequality remain hugely problematic, and more than half of school-age children showed “shockingly low proficiency rates” in reading and math, it said. Two-thirds of those children were in school.

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The cost of implementing the global goals has been estimated at $3 trillion a year. Pixabay

Human trafficking rates nearly doubled from an average 150 detected victims per country in 2010 to 254 in 2016. But it was unclear how much of the increase reflected improved reporting systems versus an increase in trafficking, said Francesca Perucci of the U.N.’s statistics division, who worked on the report. “It’s hard to exactly distinguish the two,” she said at a launch of the report.

ALSO READ: UN: World Showing Lack of Ambition in Reducing Inequality, Countering Climate Change

But climate change remained paramount. Greenhouse gases have continued to climb, and “climate change is occurring much faster than anticipated,” the report said. At this week’s goals summit, 47 countries were expected to present voluntary progress reviews. Almost 100 other countries and four cities including New York have done so.

Earlier U.N. reports said the goals were threatened by the persistence of violence, conflict and lack of private investment. Outside assessments have also cited nationalism, protectionism and insufficient funding. The cost of implementing the global goals has been estimated at $3 trillion a year. (VOA)