Study predicts fewer icebergs from Alaska glacier

Columbia Glacier. (Map via Google Maps)

A new study says Alaska’s Columbia Glacier should break off far fewer icebergs in about eight years.

Scientists from the University of Colorado at Boulder used a computer model that indicates the glacier by 2020 will retreat to a new, stable position in shallower ocean water.

The study says that will slow the discharge of icebergs that accelerated in the 1980s with the glacier’s retreat.

The Columbia Glacier covers 425 square miles. The study concludes that by 2020, the glacier will be just 26 miles long.

Lead author William Colgan says the expected decrease in calving indicates how difficult it is to estimate rates of sea level rise because a single glacier’s contribution to sea level rise can turn on and turn off.