New diagnostic tool for climate change research enables better understanding of global patterns

May 14, 2012

(Phys.org) -- Scientists have developed a new diagnostic tool that will enable better understanding of global climate patterns.

The development, by researchers from The University of Queensland, University of Canterbury (New Zealand) and Monash University, distinguishes between the causes of in glacial deposits – whether climactic or caused by rock avalanche – allowing for more accurate data to inform climate models.

Co-author of the study, UQ Professor James Shulmeister, says the development represents a breakthrough in the way research is approached.

He says that while glaciers have been used as an early indicator of the extent and rate of global warming, there was previously an assumption that they always reflected climatic change.

“But there has been some debate on how much of the mountain glacier record represents climate change and how much relates to changes in glaciers resulting from rock avalanches onto the glaciers,” he said.

“Being able to determine whether a glacial advance is caused by a rock avalanche or by purely climatic factors enables us to ensure the climatic record from glacial deposits is accurate.

“Using this information we will be able to better understand our changing climate and inform the creation of climate models.”

The research, published in the April issue of the prestigious journal Geology, represents a major breakthrough in the fields of both landslide (rock avalanche) research and climate change from glaciers.

Lead researcher Dr Natalya Reznichenko says the cause of glacial deposits is more complex than originally thought and that some deposits that were previously identified as being of climatic origin are in fact the products of readvances triggered by the deposition of rock avalanche debris on glaciers.

“We discovered that during rock avalanches, intense fragmentation of rock generates extremely fine particles – much less than a thousandth of a millimetre across - that cluster together to form agglomerates,” she said.

“These agglomerates are completely absent from glacial deposits known to lack rock avalanche material.
“This discovery comes from long-term research on rock avalanches by my colleague Professor Tim Davies, a co-author of the paper.

“Using these particles as indicators we are able to determine whether a glacial advance is driven by climatic factors or is a result of rock avalanches.”

The results provide a diagnostic tool to identify glacial deposits that might be caused by rock avalanches from those clearly caused by climate.

“It is important to note that the presence of rock avalanche debris does not prove that a glacial deposit was the result of a rock avalanche-driven advance, but that this possibility cannot be ignored if rock avalanche material is present,” Dr Reznichenko said.

The new has been tested on glacial deposits at Mt Cook in New Zealand, that have been used previously to infer past climate changes.

At least two of these have been proven to contain rock-avalanche material, and their dates are similar to those of past Alpine fault earthquakes – leading to the possibility that the rock avalanches might have been earthquake-triggered.

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User comments : 10

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NotParker
1 / 5 (8) May 14, 2012
Another nail in the AGW coffin.

Arctic Sea Ice is fine.
Polar Bears are thriving.
Penguins are fine.

Now if we can only stop the 30 year permits allowing wind turbines to slaughter Bald Eagles ....
gmurphy
5 / 5 (6) May 14, 2012
At the 2009 meeting of the IUCN Polar Bear Specialist Group, scientists reported that of the 19 subpopulations* of polar bears: 8 are declining, 3 are stable, 1 is increasing and that there is insufficient data to determine the fate of the other 7 populations. Your assertion that Polar Bears are thriving is on thin ice, pardon the pun.
NotParker
1.4 / 5 (10) May 14, 2012
"The study shows that the bear population is not in crisis as people believed, said Drikus Gissing, Nunavuts director of wildlife management. There is no doom and gloom.

Mr. Gissing said he hopes the results lead to more research and a better understanding of polar bears. He said the media in southern Canada has led people to believe polar bears are endangered. They are not. He added that there are about 25,000 polar bears across Canadas Arctic. Thats likely the highest [population level] there has ever been."

http://suyts.word...d-gloom/
thermodynamics
4.2 / 5 (5) May 14, 2012
NotParker: You said: "Arctic Sea ice is fine."

Can you be more specific since it has been well below average for 10 years except for coming near the mean line this winter?

http://nsidc.org/...icenews/

So, your bears and arctic comments are wrong and your penguin comment is just not relevant.
MikPetter
5 / 5 (3) May 14, 2012
Polar Bears OK.. Not!
Foxe Basin Polar Bear Aerial Survey
NWRT Project Number: 2-10-13
Project Title: Aerial Survey Population Monitoring of Polar Bears in Foxe Basin
Extract "The aerial survey results did not provide evidence to suggest that climate change is negatively influencing FB, though impacts have been documented elsewhere in the region (e.g., Western Hudson Bay; Regehr et al. 2007, Stirling et al. 1999)."
NB Foxe Bay is one of thirteen identified Bear sub-populations
MikPetter
5 / 5 (4) May 14, 2012
For other subpopulations
http://env.gov.nu...2037.pdf
STATUS OF THE POLAR BEAR , Wildlife Research Section , Department of Environment
Government of Nunavut 2007
Extract from Table 1. 2007 PBTC status table of Canadian polar bear subpopulations
Subpopulation and current population compared to historical levels
Southern Beaufort Sea - Reduced
Northern Beaufort Sea - unknown
Melville Severely - reduced
Norwegian Bay - Not reduced
Lancaster Sound - Not reduced
M'Clintock Channel - Severely reduced
Gulf of Boothia - Not reduced
Foxe Basin - unknown
Western Hudson Bay - Reduced
Southern Hudson Bay - Not reduced
Kane Basin - Reduced
Baffin Bay - Reduced
Davis Strait - Not reduced
For some they noted "Population has reduced vital rates due to reduced ice caused by climate warming."
NotParker
1 / 5 (6) May 14, 2012
NotParker: You said: "Arctic Sea ice is fine."

Can you be more specific since it has been well below average for 10 years except for coming near the mean line this winter?

http://nsidc.org/...icenews/

So, your bears and arctic comments are wrong and your penguin comment is just not relevant.


Arctic Ice at maximum was slightly below average, about 10%. Nothing to worry about. And the 20s/30s/40s also were warm but there were no satellites to document it.

But now that the maximum ice is back to normal it doesn't count?

http://arctic-roo...area.png

As for Polar Bears, the count was down to 5,000 in the 1950s and is now around 25,000. It would be higher, but aboriginals and hunters they lend the licenses to kill about 1,000 per year.

It is unimaginably dishonest to blame polar bear deaths on mythical warming when it is human shooting them that keep their numbers from exploding.
NotParker
1 / 5 (6) May 14, 2012
Back to the point of this article. Glaciers sometimes move forward, some move backwards. AGW cultists pine for the good old days when all Glaciers were at their Little Ice Age maximum. Then they blame CO2 when it was dust.

If all the glaciers were at their LIA maximum, global agriculture would not be able to feed 3 billion people, let alone the 7 billion there is now.
thermodynamics
5 / 5 (2) May 15, 2012
NotParker: You said: "As for Polar Bears, the count was down to 5,000 in the 1950s and is now around 25,000. It would be higher, but aboriginals and hunters they lend the licenses to kill about 1,000 per year."

Nice try. The polar bear populations were not well known in the 1950s and are not completely known now. However, what was known is that they were being hunted and that is why the hunting was reduced. The result is that they have bounced back, but that does not mean they are where they should be or that they are not endangered. Please give us some credible reference that shows they are not endangered. Try this reference:

http://www.polarb...-booming

I am sure you will come back with a reference from Fox or Rush.
NotParker
1 / 5 (3) May 15, 2012
NotParker: You said: "As for Polar Bears, the count was down to 5,000 in the 1950s and is now around 25,000. It would be higher, but aboriginals and hunters they lend the licenses to kill about 1,000 per year."

Nice try.


Greenland: 150, while also allowed recreational hunting"

"About 500 bears are killed per year by humans across Canada,"

Russia? Poaching and legal killing by natives. No number given.

Alaska? Natives are allowed to kill. No number given.

http://en.wikiped...lar_bear]http://en.wikiped...lar_bear[/url]

Is "Climate Change" killing 1000 bears per year? No. 100? No. 1? Maybe.

Is hunting killing 1000 bears a year? Yes.

http://en.wikiped...lar_bear]http://en.wikiped...lar_bear[/url]

"as few as 5,000 40 years ago" ...

http://www.nytime...amp;_r=1