Navigation Links
Shrubs lend an insight into a glacier's past
Date:11/26/2012

The stems of shrubs have given researchers a window into a glacier's past, potentially allowing them to more accurately assess how they're set to change in the future.

Their findings have been published today, 27 November, in IOP Publishing's journal Environmental Research Letters, and show how a glacier's history of melting can be extended way past the instrumental record.

Much like the rings on a tree stump indicate how old it is, measuring the width of rings on the stem of a shrub can give a good indication of how well it has grown year on year. Under extreme environmental conditions, such as those close to a glacier, a shrub's growth relies heavily on summer temperatures, meaning the ring-width of a shrub can be used a proxy for glacial melting, which also relies heavily on summer temperatures.

Lead author of the study, Allan Buras, said: "In warm summers, shrubs grow more compared to cold summers. In contrast, a glacier's summer mass balance is more negative in warm summers, meaning there is more melting compared to cold summers.

"Big rings in shrubs therefore indicate comparably warm summers, and thus a strongly negative summer mass balance in other words, more melting."

The researchers, from the University of Greifswald, tested this theory on a local icecap in the Scandic Mountains of southern Norway. They took 24 samples of shrubs from a site close to the glacier and analysed their ring-widths.

Monthly precipitation and temperature data from a local climate station were retrieved from the Norwegian Meteorological Office, and the summer mass balance of the glacier, from 1963 to 2010, was retrieved from the existing literature.

Each of these data sets was then statistically tested to see if there was a correlation between them. The results showed a robust and reliable correlation between the ring-width of shrubs and the summer melting of the glacier.

"Our results show that it is possible to reconstruct glacier summer mass balance with shrub ring-width series and it is therefore theoretically possible to extent records of summer mass balance into the past," Buras continued.

The shrubs that were collected in the study were relatively young, only allowing for reliable reconstructions over the past 36 years, meaning they could not be used to extend the record of the glacier; however, the researchers are confident that this could have been achieved if longer-lived shrubs were selected.

Most of the available data on the mass balance of glaciers only spans several decades and there is some data missing, mainly because most glaciers are situated in hard-to-reach arctic and alpine areas.

With the possibility to extend the instrumental records of summer mass balance, researchers may gain a better understanding of how glaciers behave in the summer, which they can use to calibrate and verify their existing models.

From Tuesday 27 November, this paper can be downloaded from http://iopscience.iop.org/1748-9326/7/4/044031/article


'/>"/>

Contact: Michael Bishop
michael.bishop@iop.org
01-179-301-032
Institute of Physics
Source:Eurekalert

Related biology news :

1. New insights into cloud formation
2. Research on flavanols and procyanidins provides new insights into how these phytonutrients may positively impact human health
3. New insight into mechanisms behind autoimmune diseases suggests a potential therapy
4. Discovery offers insight into treating viral stomach flu
5. Fine-scale analysis of the human brain yields insight into its distinctive composition
6. Chimpanzee ground nests offer new insight into our ancestors descent from the trees
7. Battle of the sexes offers evolutionary insights
8. Analysis of speed of Greenland glaciers gives new insight for rising sea level
9. Mice with big brains provide insight into brain regeneration and developmental disorders
10. Maps of Miscanthus genome offer insight into grass evolution
11. Songbirds learning hub in brain offers insight into motor control
Post Your Comments:
*Name:
*Comment:
*Email:
(Date:3/27/2017)... 2017  Catholic Health Services (CHS) has been ... (HIMSS) Analytics for achieving Stage 6 on the ... In addition, CHS previously earned a place in ... electronic medical record (EMR). "HIMSS Analytics ... EMR usage in an outpatient setting.  This recognition ...
(Date:3/23/2017)... 23, 2017 The report "Gesture Recognition and Touchless Sensing ... Geography - Global Forecast to 2022", published by MarketsandMarkets, the market is expected ... 29.63% between 2017 and 2022. Continue Reading ... ... ...
(Date:3/22/2017)... 2017 Optimove , provider of ... such as 1-800-Flowers and AdoreMe, today announced two ... Replenishment. Using Optimove,s machine learning algorithms, these features ... replenishment recommendations to their customers based not just ... customer intent drawn from a complex web of ...
Breaking Biology News(10 mins):
(Date:6/20/2017)... ... June 20, 2017 , ... GigaGen ... from millions-diverse immune repertoires, announces launch of its new Surge(TM) Discovery ... PhD, CEO of GigaGen, will present on Surge at the conference. , Surge ...
(Date:6/19/2017)... ... June 19, 2017 , ... A colony of healthy honey bees ... tissues by delivering pollen and nectar containing nutrients necessary for growth and survival. Better ... , Many recent indicators point to a decline in honey bee health. Sick and ...
(Date:6/15/2017)... ... June 15, 2017 , ... New resistant soybean and ... for managing Palmer amaranth and other broadleaf weeds resistant to glyphosate. But scientists ... Auxin herbicides are known to drift and to cause harm to sensitive, off-target ...
(Date:6/15/2017)... ... June 15, 2017 , ... ... DuPont Biofuels, will be speaking at Bloomberg’s 2017 Sustainable Business Summit: Seattle ... leading environmental and sustainability officials on a panel titled “Developing a Corporate Renewables ...
Breaking Biology Technology: