MAY 18, 2022 10:00 AM PDT

Landslides can have a major impact on glacier melt and movement

When we think of glaciers, horrifying images of them receding into the water because of climate change immediately come to mind. But we silly humans who are actively destroying this planet are equally trying to learn how we can save it and the processes by which this can happen. Just like us silly humans, the Earth itself is actively trying to save itself from the ongoing damage we are causing it.

In a recent study published in Geology, a team of researchers led by University of Minnesota Twin Cities has revealed, for the first time, that landslides can have a major impact on the movement of glaciers. Landslides, also known as “mass wasting”, are defined as the movement of a mass of rock, debris, or earth down a slope.

Using satellite imagery to study the effects of a 2019 landslide that occurred on the Amalia Glacier in the Patagonia region of Chile, the researchers found that the landslide caused the glacier to grow in size and has since slowed down its melting process.

"These landslides are actually fairly common," explained Max Van Wyk de Vries, lead author of the study and a recent Ph.D. graduate of the University of Minnesota's N.H. Winchell School of Earth and Environmental Sciences. "If they're able to stabilize glaciers, then it might affect projections of how large certain glaciers will be in the future. There's the context of global warming and climate change here, which is causing glaciers all around the world to retreat at unprecedented rates. That's affecting essentially everyone around the world because as these glaciers get smaller, they cause the sea levels to rise."

Amalia Glacier

Amalia Glacier, also known as Skua Glacier, is located in Bernardo O’Higgins National Park in Chile. It experienced the most drastic retreat of all glaciers mentioned during the timer period of 1945 to 1986, as it retreated an alarming 7 km (4.3 mi).

As always, keep doing science & keep looking up!

Sources: Geology, United States Geological Survey, Tourist Link

MS in Geological Sciences
Laurence Tognetti is a six-year USAF Veteran who earned both a BSc and MSc from the School of Earth and Space Exploration at Arizona State University. Laurence is extremely passionate about outer space and science communication, and is the author of “Outer Solar System Moons: Your Personal 3D Journey”.
You May Also Like
APR 18, 2022
Space & Astronomy
Neptune - The Distant Planet
APR 18, 2022
Neptune - The Distant Planet
Neptune, the eighth planet from the Sun – The Distant Planet. This bright blue orb hanging out near the edge of th ...
MAY 12, 2022
Earth & The Environment
Precipitation helped drive distribution of Alaska dinosaurs
MAY 12, 2022
Precipitation helped drive distribution of Alaska dinosaurs
Dinosaurs are fascinating creatures, and everyone has their favorite one, most notably the Tyrannosaurus Rex, rightfully ...
MAY 26, 2022
Earth & The Environment
Its All Downhill From Here - Why Coastal Cities Around the World are Sinking
MAY 26, 2022
Its All Downhill From Here - Why Coastal Cities Around the World are Sinking
It is no secret that some coastlines have seen extreme change over the last several thousand years of human existence. W ...
MAY 27, 2022
Cancer
Don't Forget the Sunscreen!
MAY 27, 2022
Don't Forget the Sunscreen!
Skin cancer is the most diagnosed type of cancer; however, about 99% of skin cancers are “non-melanoma skin cancer ...
JUN 18, 2022
Technology
Time crystals bend, don't break, rules of quantum physics
JUN 18, 2022
Time crystals bend, don't break, rules of quantum physics
Let’s face it, bending the rules is fun, even as adults. But the great thing about being a scientist is that you l ...
JUN 25, 2022
Space & Astronomy
Dead Star's Cannibalism Points to Future of Our Solar System
JUN 25, 2022
Dead Star's Cannibalism Points to Future of Our Solar System
During a press conference at this summer’s American Astronomical Society meeting, a team of researchers presented ...
Loading Comments...