Melting Greenland

By: arcticmelt , 1:10 PM GMT on March 19, 2014

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Above, Peter Sinclair's interview from last summer with Dr. Alun Hubbard in Kangerlussuaq. Hubbard described how a GPS device deep in the ice sheet’s interior was beginning to show significant movement.
Newly published evidence continues the story.

Nature Climate Change:

Abstract: .. Here, we show that the northeast Greenland ice stream, which extends more than 600 km into the interior of the ice sheet, is now undergoing sustained dynamic thinning, linked to regional warming, after more than a quarter of a century of stability. This sector of the Greenland ice sheet is of particular interest, because the drainage basin area covers 16% of the ice sheet (twice that of Jakobshavn Isbræ) and numerical model predictions suggest no significant mass loss for this sector, leading to an under-estimation of future global sea-level rise. The geometry of the bedrock and monotonic trend in glacier speed-up and mass loss suggests that dynamic drawdown of ice in this region will continue in the near future.

Kitasap Sun/AP:

Stability in the rapidly changing Arctic is a rarity. Yet for years researchers believed the glaciers in the frigid northeast section of Greenland, which connect to the interior of the country’s massive ice sheet, were resilient to the effects of climate change that have affected so much of the Arctic.

But new data published Sunday in Nature Climate Change reveals that over the past decade, the region has started rapidly losing ice due to a rise in air and ocean temperatures caused in part by climate change. The increased melt raises grave concerns that sea level rise could accelerate even faster than projected, threatening even more coastal communities worldwide.

“North Greenland is very cold and dry, and believed to be a very stable area,” said Shfaqat Khan, a senior researcher at the Technical University of Denmark who led the new study. “It is surprisingly to see ice loss in one of the coldest regions on the planet.”

The stability of the region is particularly important because it has much deeper ties to the interior ice sheet than other glaciers on the island. If the entire ice sheet were to melt which would take thousands of years in most climate change scenarios sea levels would rise up to 23 feet, catastrophically altering coastlines around the world.

Sea levels have risen 8 inches globally since the start of the 1900s, and current projections show that figure could rise another 3 feet by the end of this century.

Some recent research has suggested that Greenland’s ice loss may slow, but not all researchers agree. Jason Box, a glaciologist at the Geological Survey of Denmark and Greenland, said the new study presented a novel analysis of the region and that other factors such as soot could contribute to even more rapid melt in Greenland and other parts of the Arctic.

“These new measurements show that the sleeping giant is awakening and suggest given likely continued Arctic warming that it’s not going back to bed,” Box said in an email.

Greenland houses 680,000 cubic miles of ice in its ice sheet, which stretches up to 3 miles thick in some places and covers roughly three-quarters of the island. Glaciers stretch from this frozen mass in all directions, eventually meeting the sea. In the past 20 years, some of these glaciers, particularly in the southeast and northwest, have dumped ever increasing amounts of ice into the ocean. That water has accounted for more than 15 percent of global sea level rise over that period.

Since the mid-1960s, climate change has helped drive average air temperatures up about 3.6F across the Arctic, more than double the increase compared to midlatitudes. The rise in air temperatures has fueled a tumultuous decline in sea ice, which has also helped warm the region’s ocean waters. Around parts of Greenland, ocean surface temperatures rose 1.8-3.6F between 1990-2011.

While the northwest and southeast section of Greenland have dramatically lost ice, researchers believed the northeast section was holding its ground. From 1978-2003, that was true, but ice loss has accelerated rapidly since mid-2003.

The Zachariae glacier has long acted as a sentinel on the northeast coast of the island, keeping ocean waters at bay from a 370-mile long stream of ice that stretches into the heart of Greenland’s massive ice sheet.

But a series of unusually warm summers around 2003 started to trigger glacial melt. At the same time, a spike in ocean surface temperatures also helped melt sea ice that normally acts as a buttress for the Zachariae and other glaciers in northeast Greenland. Without reinforcement, the glaciers suddenly started to draw down more ice from on high and retreat faster.

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Care about discussion of how to slow the dire effects of human caused Global Warming.Okla media no help/part of the problem