Every few days, it seems, another factor is discovered to further accelerate Climate Destabilization. Today we learned that increasing CO2 makes ice crack faster.
... CO2 molecules may be having a more direct impact on the ice that covers our planet. Researchers from the Massachusetts Institute for Technology have shown that the material strength and fracture toughness of ice are decreased significantly under increasing concentrations of CO2 molecules, making ice caps and glaciers more vulnerable to cracking and splitting into pieces,...
Ice caps and glaciers cover seven per cent of Earth -- more than Europe and North America combined -- and are responsible for reflecting 80-90 per cent of the Sun's light rays that enter our atmosphere and maintain Earth's temperature. They are also a natural carbon sink, capturing a large amount of CO2.
"If ice caps and glaciers were to continue to crack and break into pieces, their surface area that is exposed to air would be significantly increased, which could lead to accelerated melting and much reduced coverage area on the Earth.
... CO2molecules first adhere to the crack boundary of ice by forming a bond with the hydrogen atoms and then migrate through the ice in a flipping motion along the crack boundary towards the crack tip.
The CO2 molecules accumulate at the crack tip and constantly attack the water molecules by trying to bond to them. This leaves broken bonds behind and increases the brittleness of the ice on a macroscopic scale. [emphasis mine]
As the world's coral reefs bleach out, many are being colonized by algae, which can inhibit recolonization by new coral polyps. Now we learn that more algae also cause higher microbe numbers, and increase the probability they're pathogens. Carbon cycling slows, impacting fish numbers.
In this newly abundant population of microbes, evolutionary selection pressures favor microbes that endanger corals, either by depleting oxygen from the environment or through disease. As the corals die off, the algae have even more space to take over,... creating a runaway feedback loop that leads to further coral death and microbes taking over the ecosystem.
... microbialization associated with increasing algae cover in coral reefs can decimate the reef ecosystem through microbial takeover.
... 'microbialization' destroys links in coral reefs' delicate food chain.
... they found that reef sites with higher algal cover also had more microbes. Using metagenomic sequencing techniques, they found that in algae-dominated reefs, the microbial community is more likely to harbor harmful pathogens. [order changed, emphasis mine]
Another positive feedback: glacier melt increases pink snow, which lowers albedo to increase melt.
... so-called pink snow, which Arctic explorers have observed for centuries, is the result of a red algae...
The presence of red algae, the study found, lowers the snow’s albedo, or its ability to reflect light instead of absorbing it as heat...
... it’s an example of how human-caused climate change functions on a positive feedback loop ...
“The algae need liquid water in order to bloom,” she said. “Therefore the melting of snow and ice surfaces controls the abundance of the algae. The more melting, the more algae. With temperatures rising globally, the snow algae phenomenon will likely also increase leading to an even higher bio-albedo effect.”
The latest new positive climate change feedback is that melting in East Antarctica's Wilkes Basin could facilitate widespread coastal melt.
This research concludes that local melting from the Wilkes Basin in East Antarctica “could potentially destabilise the wider Antarctic Ice Sheet” as meltwater rapidly stratifies surface waters so, whilst the surface ocean cools, the Southern Ocean warms by more than 1°C at depth. “The temperature changes propagate westwards around the coast of the Antarctic continent with increasing depth, representing a positive feedback mechanism that has the potential to amplify melting around the continent… Thus, destabilisation of large sectors of the EAIS could arise from warming and melting in just one area.” As well: “Our results suggest that melting of one sector of the EAIS could result in accelerated warming across other sectors, including the Weddell Sea sector of the West Antarctic Ice Sheet” (emphasis added).
Quote lifted from Shawn Redmond's comment at Robert Scribbler.
Original article (very long)
Greenland's two hottest summers each produced a solitary wave of mass loss in Rink Glacier, another new positive feedback that no one had imaged.
A new NASA study finds that during Greenland's hottest summers on record, 2010 and 2012, the ice in Rink Glacier on the island's west coast didn't just melt faster than usual, it slid through the glacier's interior in a gigantic wave, like a warmed freezer pop sliding out of its plastic casing. The wave persisted for four months, with ice from upstream continuing to move down to replace the missing mass for at least four more months.
This long pulse of mass loss, called a solitary wave, is a new discovery that may increase the potential for sustained ice loss in Greenland as the climate continues to warm, with implications for the future rate of sea level rise.
Rink is one of Greenland's major outlets to the ocean, draining about 11 billion tons (gigatons) of ice per year in the early 2000s... In the intensely hot summer of 2012, however, it lost an additional 6.7 gigatons of mass in the form of a solitary wave. [emphasis mine]