Comment on “When Earth's freezer door is left ajar”



As a glaciologist, I wish I could believe Hezi Gildor's [2003] provocative Forum article, that warming favors ice growth up to rather high temperatures, and that the future may hold more beautiful glaciers for my colleagues and me to study. Unfortunately far too much evidence indicates that warming will reduce the extent of ice on Earth, and has done so under a wide range of past conditions, including the ice age cycling of the Pleistocene [e.g., Rahmstorf, 2002].

For most of the Earth's glaciers today, accumulation of snowfall in colder places is removed primarily by melting in warmer places. Anything that affects either accumulation or melting, including temperature, precipitation, cloud cover, relative humidity wind speed, debris cover, seasonality of these, and more, can affect glacier balance, as can a host of ice-flow processes [e.g., Paterson, 1994; Oerlemans, 2001].