Decades after the US buried nuclear waste abroad, climate change could unearth it – Grist Magazine

Aerial view of the Runit Dome (or Cactus Dome), Runit Island, Enewetak Atoll c. 1977-1980. The crater created by the Cactus shot of Operation Hardtack I was used as a burial pit to inter 84,000 cubic meters of radioactive soil scraped from the various contaminated Enewetak Atoll islands Courtesy of US Defense Special Weapons Agency, Public domain, via Wikimedia).

A new report says melting ice sheets and rising seas could disturb waste from U.S. nuclear projects in Greenland and the Marshall Islands…The report summarizes disagreements between Marshall Islands officials and the U.S. Department of Energy regarding the risks posed by U.S. nuclear waste. The GAO recommends that the agency adopt a communications strategy for conveying information about the potential for pollution to the Marshallese people.

Melting Ice Shelves

“Together, the Antarctic and Greenland Ice Sheets contain more than 99 percent of freshwater ice on Earth. If they both completely melted, they would raise sea level by an estimated 67.4 meters (223 feet). Long-term satellite data indicate that through most of the twentieth century, the ice sheets made very little contribution to sea level, and were nearly in balance in annual snowfall gain and ice or meltwater loss. However, the stability of the ice sheets has changed considerably in the twenty-first century…” – Ice Sheets Today

Two Studies on Greenland Reveal Ominous Signs for Sea Level Rise – the New York Times

Streams and rivers that form on top of the Greenland ice sheet during spring and summer are the main agent transporting melt runoff from the ice sheet to the ocean (by Maria-José Viñas courtesy of NASA Goddard Space Flight Center CC BY 2.0 DEED via Flickr).

Greenland’s mountain glaciers and floating ice shelves are melting faster than they were just a few decades ago and becoming destabilized, according to two separate studies published this week. The island’s peripheral glaciers, located mostly in coastal mountains and not directly connected to the larger Greenland ice sheet, retreated twice as fast between 2000 and 2021 as they did before the turn of the century, according to a study published on Thursday. “It got a lot harder to be a glacier in Greenland in the 21st century than it had been even in the 1990s,” said Yarrow Axford, a professor of geological sciences at Northwestern University and a co-author of the paper, published in the journal Nature Climate Change…

Greenland’s ice shelves hold back sea level rise. There are just 5 left – the Washington Post

Ice accelerating as it flows towards the coast creates heavy crevassing near the coast of Melville Bay in west Greenland (by John Sonntag/NASA’s Operation IceBridge courtesy of NASA Earth Observatory, public domain).

And now there are only five large shelves left, stretching out from their fjords toward the Greenland Sea and the Arctic Ocean. That includes three major ones — Petermann, Ryder and Nioghalvfjerdsbrae (often referred to as 79 North for its location in degrees latitude) — whose respective glaciers could ultimately account for 3.6 feet of sea level rise if they were to melt entirely — a process that would take centuries to play out…

As Greenland’s Ice Melts, Glacial Sand Deposits May Offer a Welcome Economic Opportunity – Columbia Climate School

Greenland’s glaciers grind rock into a fine powder that discolors meltwater and often makes beautiful patterns as it mixes with seawater.(courtesy of NASA Earth Observatory, by Joshua Stevens, using Landsat data from the U.S. Geological Survey. Public Domain).

Greenland’s ice sheet is losing 280 billion tons of mass per year, and some models suggest that its glaciers may be melting up to 100 times faster than expected. But flowing off those glaciers comes a potential economic boom: sand. Each season, millions of tons of sediment flow from melting glaciers into the ocean, adding landmass to the largest island in the world. According to a research paper published in Nature last fall, three out of four Greenlanders support extracting and exporting sand — so long as they’re the ones in charge of managing the resource…

Grains of Sand: Too Much and Never Enough – EOS Magazine

Sand dunes in Kernel - Sydney, Australia (by Bea Pierce CC BY-NC 2.0 via Flickr).

Sand is a foundational element of our cities, our homes, our landscapes and seascapes. How we will interact with the material in the future, however, is less certain…

“The use of sand is now faced with two major challenges,” said Xiaoyang Zhong, a doctoral student in environmental science at Leiden University in the Netherlands. “One is that it has caused enormous consequences in the environment,” he explained. “The second challenge is that easily usable sand resources are running out in many regions…”