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Blue Blob has Slowed Iceland’s Ice Melt.

The American Geophysical Union (AGU) reported this week (February 15, 2022) on a patch of cold water in the North Atlantic Ocean nicknamed the Blue Blob. These scientists said it has temporarily slowed the melting of Iceland’s glaciers, but that melting can be expected to accelerate around the year 2050.

Researchers used climate models and observations to conclude the Blue Blob has temporarily slowed the ice-melt by chilling the air over the island since 2011. The peer-reviewed journal Geophysical Research Letters published the new study on January 24.The researchers partly investigated the Blue Blob by estimating how much snow Iceland’s glaciers receive in winter.

They verified their estimates using depth measurements from Iceland’s glaciers, collected by colleagues at the University of Iceland since the 1990s. Then they also calculated how much ice goes into the ocean from meltwater runoff from Iceland’s glaciers in summer.Their investigation connected the Blue Blob with records of lower air temperatures across Iceland in summer, which coincide with the ice-loss slowdown. These scientists said they would continue to investigate the origin and cause of the cold patch of seawater that has slowed Iceland’s ice-melt: the Blue Blob.

Their announcement explained that the Earth had warmed as quickly as the Arctic. Recent studies report the area is warming four times faster than the global average. Iceland’s glaciers steadily shrank from 1995 to 2010, losing an average of 11 gigatons of ice per year. Starting in 2011, however, the speed of Iceland’s melting slowed, resulting in about half as much ice loss, or about five gigatons annually. This trend was not seen in nearby, more enormous glaciers across Greenland and Svalbard.

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