Scientists in Belgium find a surprising reason why Greenland's glacier is melting so fast.

A team of scientists in Belgium has discovered a somewhat counterintuitive reason the Greenland ice sheet is melting at night.

Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images.


The surprise culprit? Clouds.

Jerks. Photo by Sy Clark/Flickr.

It may seem just ... kind of wrong to the many of us whose brains reflexively associate "clouds" with "chilly." If cloudy weather indeed equals cold weather, ice should ... stay frozen better on a cloudy day, right? According to this new study, however, increased cloud cover over the glacier actually accelerates the rate of melting.

Here's how it works, according to Kristof Van Tricht, University of Leuven professor and lead author on the paper:

"Over the entire Greenland ice sheet, clouds raise the temperature, which triggers additional meltwater runoff: 56 billion tons per year — a third more than clear skies. Contrary to what you would expect, this effect is not so much visible during the daytime melting process, but rather during the following night. A snowpack is like a frozen sponge that melts during the day. At night, clear skies make a large amount of meltwater in the sponge refreeze. When the sky is overcast, by contrast, the temperature remains too high and only some of the water refreezes. As a result, the sponge is saturated more quickly and excess meltwater drains away."

In other words...

The clouds basically act as a giant, celestial Snuggie for the glacier.

Overcast skies at night prevent heat — which builds up during the day while the sun is out — from escaping from the surface of the ice sheet. That heat makes it too warm for the water on the glacier's surface to refreeze when it's supposed to — and once the water drains off the glacier, it's lost forever.

Climate change is the elephant in the room here.

An iceberg that cleaved off the Greenland ice sheet. Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images.

Of course, the results of the study would just be a cool, neat, "ain't science something" thing if the melting of the Greenland ice sheet didn't have the potential to cause seriously catastrophic problems for everyone on Earth.

At the current rate, Greenland is losing over 300 billion tons of ice a year. The consequences of the ensuing sea level rise are expected to include anything from increased flooding during storms to the evacuation of coastal cities — basically, nothing terribly desirable.

Researchers hope that identifying this new behavior will help them predict future melting events — and the overall rate of sea level swell — more effectively, rendering them better able to gird humanity's loins for the worst (or, at least, the not-so-good).

In the meantime, continuing to ratchet back all the carbon we're putting in the air will only help things for the better.

The major climate agreement signed in Paris last year is super ambitious with good reason: We need a super ambitious plan if we're going to have any hope of limiting the damage to our sea and sky that's already begun, and we need to make sure we stick to it.

That means electing politicians who not only believe that manmade climate change is a real thing, but are willing to take the necessary policy steps — de-incentivizing the burning of fossil fuels while investing in renewable energy — that will help us snuff it out for good.

That way, those bastard clouds can't threaten us anymore.

That's right: Back off, sickos. Photo by Sy Clark/Flickr.

More

On an old episode of "The Oprah Winfrey Show" in July 1992, Oprah put her audience through a social experiment that puts racism in a new light. Despite being nearly two decades old, it's as relevant today as ever.

She split the audience members into two groups based on their eye color. Those with brown eyes were given preferential treatment by getting to cut the line and given refreshments while they waited to be seated. Those with blue eyes were made to put on a green collar and wait in a crowd for two hours.

Staff were instructed to be extra polite to brown-eyed people and to discriminate against blue-eyed people. Her guest for that day's show was diversity expert Jane Elliott, who helped set up the experiment and played along, explaining that brown-eyed people were smarter than blue-eyed people.

Watch the video to see how this experiment plays out.

Oprah's Social Experiment on Her Audience www.youtube.com

Culture
via Cadbury

Cadbury has removed the words from its Dairy Milk chocolate bars in the U.K. to draw attention to a serious issue, senior loneliness.

On September 4, Cadbury released the limited-edition candy bars in supermarkets and for every one sold, the candy giant will donate 30p (37 cents) to Age UK, an organization dedicated to improving the quality of life for the elderly.

Cadbury was prompted to help the organization after it was revealed that 225,000 elderly people in the UK often go an entire week without speaking to another person.

Keep Reading Show less
Well Being

Young people today are facing what seems to be greater exposure to complex issues like mental health, bullying, and youth violence. As a result, teachers are required to be well-versed in far more than school curriculum to ensure students are prepared to face the world inside and outside of the classroom. Acting as more than teachers, but also mentors, counselors, and cheerleaders, they must be equipped with practical and relevant resources to help their students navigate some of the more complicated social issues – though access to such tools isn't always guaranteed.

Take Dr. Jackie Sanderlin, for example, who's worked in the education system for over 25 years, and as a teacher for seven. Entering the profession, she didn't anticipate how much influence a student's home life could affect her classroom, including "students who lived in foster homes" and "lacked parental support."

Dr. Jackie Sanderlin, who's worked in the education system for over 25 years.

Valerie Anglemyer, a middle school teacher with more than 13 years of experience, says it can be difficult to create engaging course work that's applicable to the challenges students face. "I think that sometimes, teachers don't know where to begin. Teachers are always looking for ways to make learning in their classrooms more relevant."

So what resources do teachers turn to in an increasingly fractured world? "Joining a professional learning network that supports and challenges thinking is one of the most impactful things that a teacher can do to support their own learning," Anglemyer says.

Valerie Anglemyer, a middle school teacher with more than 13 years of experience.

A new program for teachers that offers this network along with other resources is the WE Teachers Program, an initiative developed by Walgreens in partnership with ME to WE and Mental Health America. WE Teachers provides tools and resources, at no cost to teachers, looking for guidance around the social issues related to poverty, youth violence, mental health, bullying, and diversity and inclusion. Through online modules and trainings as well as a digital community, these resources help them address the critical issues their students face.

Jessica Mauritzen, a high school Spanish teacher, credits a network of support for providing her with new opportunities to enrich the learning experience for her students. "This past year was a year of awakening for me and through support… I realized that I was able to teach in a way that built up our community, our school, and our students, and supported them to become young leaders," she says.

With the new WE Teachers program, teachers can learn to identify the tough issues affecting their students, secure the tools needed to address them in a supportive manner, and help students become more socially-conscious, compassionate, and engaged citizens.

It's a potentially life-saving experience for students, and in turn, "a great gift for teachers," says Dr. Sanderlin.

"I wish I had the WE Teachers program when I was a teacher because it provides the online training and resources teachers need to begin to grapple with these critical social issues that plague our students every day," she adds.

In addition to the WE Teachers curriculum, the program features a WE Teachers Award to honor educators who go above and beyond in their classrooms. At least 500 teachers will be recognized and each will receive a $500 Walgreens gift card, which is the average amount teachers spend out-of-pocket on supplies annually. Teachers can be nominated or apply themselves. To learn more about the awards and how to nominate an amazing teacher, or sign up for access to the teacher resources available through WE Teachers, visit walgreens.com/metowe.

WE Teachers
True
Walgreens
via KGW-TV / YouTube

One of the major differences between women and men is that women are often judged based on their looks rather than their character or abilities.

"Men as well as women tend to establish the worth of individual women primarily by the way their body looks, research shows. We do not do this when we evaluate men," Naomi Ellemers Ph.D. wrote in Psychology Today.

Dr. Ellers believes that this tendency to judge a woman solely on her looks causes them to be seen as an object rather than a person.

Keep Reading Show less
Culture