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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.

Health

A child’s mental health concerns shouldn’t be publicized no matter who their parents are

Even politicians' children deserve privacy during a mental health crisis.

A child's mental health concerns shouldn't be publicized.

Editor's Note: If you are having thoughts about taking your own life, or know of anyone who is in need of help, the 988 Suicide & Crisis Lifeline is a United States-based suicide prevention network of over 200+ crisis centers that provides 24/7 service via a toll-free hotline with the number 9-8-8. It is available to anyone in suicidal crisis or emotional distress.


It's an unspoken rule that children of politicians should be off limits when it comes to public figure status. Kids deserve the ability to simply be kids without the media picking them apart. We saw this during Obama's presidency when people from both ends of the political spectrum come out to defend Malia and Sasha Obama's privacy and again when a reporter made a remark about Barron Trump.

This is even more important when we are talking about a child's mental health, so seeing detailed reports about Ted Cruz's 14-year-old child's private mental health crisis was offputting, to say it kindly. It feels icky for me to even put the senator's name in this article because it feels like adding to this child's exposure.

When a child is struggling with mental health concerns, the instinct should be to cocoon them in safety, not to highlight the details or speculate on the cause. Ever since the news broke about this child's mental health, social media has been abuzz, mostly attacking the parents and speculating if the child is a member of the LGBTQ community.

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Putting creative work out into the world to be evaluated and judged is nerve-wracking enough as it is. Having to market your work, especially if you're not particularly extroverted or sales-minded, is even worse.

So when you're a newly published author holding a book signing and only two of the dozens of people who RSVP'd show up, it's disheartening if not devastating. No matter how much you tell yourself "people are just busy," it feels like a rejection of you and your work.

Debut novelist Chelsea Banning recently experienced this scenario firsthand, and her sharing it led to an amazing deluge of support and solidarity—not only from other aspiring authors, but from some of the top names in the writing business.

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The legality of abortion is one of the most polarized debates in America—but it doesn't have to be.

People have big feelings about abortion, which is understandable. On one hand, you have people who feel that abortion is a fundamental women's rights issue, that our bodily autonomy is not something you can legislate, and that those who oppose abortion rights are trying to control women through oppressive legislation. On the other, you have folks who believe that a fetus is a human individual first and foremost, that no one has the right to terminate a human life, and that those who support abortion rights are heartless murderers.

Then there are those of us in the messy middle. Those who believe that life begins at conception, that abortion isn't something we'd choose—and we'd hope others wouldn't choose—under most circumstances, yet who choose to vote to keep abortion legal.

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