Scientists have found a record of glacier advances in Mueller Glacier in New Zealand.
Click on image for full size
Image Courtesy of George Denton
News story originally written on April 29, 2009
Most of the world's glaciers are melting as the Earth gets warmer. But a few, including glaciers in South America and New Zealand, are growing larger.
Glaciers are extremely sensitive to changes in temperature and snowfall, which makes them helpful for studying past climate. But it is very difficult to determine the exact ages of glaciers from the past. One way to measure changes in glaciers is by studying the moraines, or rock deposits, that glaciers often leave behind when they begin to melt.
Scientists recently conducted research to learn the ages of the rocks in the moraines in New Zealand. They learned that during the past 7,000 years glaciers in New Zealand were very large at times when the glaciers in the Swiss Alps and Scandinavia were melting due to warm weather.
Overall, glaciers around the world have been melting since about 1860, except for a brief growth of the glaciers in Switzerland in the 1980s, in New Zealand in the late 1970s through today, and in a few other places. Changes in wind and sea surface temperatures are thought to be causing these regional changes. Though it is wet in New Zealand right now, scientists think the climate is expected to swing back to a warmer, drier phase in the next few years, causing the glaciers to melt once again.
You might also be interested in:
This page is not yet developed at the elementary level. Please check back for updates or click on the "Intermediate" button above for information....more
Earth’s climate is getting warmer. During the past 100 years Earth’s average temperature rose about 0.6° Celsius (1.0° F). Things that people are doing like burning fossil fuels, changing the way land...more
Wind is moving air. Warm air rises, and cool air comes in to take its place. This movement creates the winds around the globe. Winds move at different speeds and have different names based on their speed....more
Scientists have learned that Mount Hood, Oregon's tallest mountain, has erupted in the past due to the mixing of two different types of magma. Adam Kent, a geologist at Oregon State University, says this...more
The Earth's mantle is a rocky, solid shell that is between the Earth's crust and the outer core. The mantle is made up of many different reservoirs that have different chemical compositions. Scientists...more
Some faults look strong and like they wouldn’t cause an earthquake. But it turns out that they can slip and slide like weak faults causing earthquakes. Scientists have been looking at one of these faults...more
The sun goes through cycles that last approximately 11 years. These solar cycle include phases with more magnetic activity, sunspots, and solar flares. They also include phases with less activity. The...more