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Picture of the Day

Chipping away at the surface

Researchers have found a way to account for how varying sediments underneath the world's glaciers control how fast glaciers slide. Their new theory inserts a heavy dose of physics into a long-used methodology, and accounts for what the team calls the dirty, dark undersides of glaciers. Such information, which has been difficult to assess, is vital for building accurate projections of sea level changes amid rising global temperatures, according to one researcher. The research gets at how the amount of sediment frozen to a glacier's base varies with underlying water pressure, melting rate and particle size. All of that influences changes in friction, or resistance to sliding. Shown here: The lead researcher reaches with an ice ax to frozen sediment beneath a glacier in Alaska.

Visit Website | Image credit: Kiya Riverman