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Greenland

By: arcticmelt , 3:39 PM GMT on June 03, 2014

http://pulitzercenter.org/reporting/arctic-greenlan d-sermilik-ice-fjord-global-warming-climate-change -ecology
"Bring it in."

What's being pulled from the arctic water, 500 miles south of Ittoqqortoormiit in Greenland's Sermilik Fjord, could predict how much more of Greenland's ice will melt.

"Gentle," a small research team chirps with as much excitement as anxiety as they ease what resembles a time capsule onto the deck of a fire-truck red icebreaker.

The high-tech instrument has been recording water temperature and salinity every hour of every day for a year. "So that we can estimate how much melting is happening, but also if these conditions change," explains Dr. Fiamma Straneo, an oceanographer with the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution. She's the lead researcher on this arctic mission.

Fjords are like rivers, connecting the ocean to glaciers. Early data collected by Straneo's team shows a temperature of 40 degrees. Enough to rapidly melt glaciers. "We really want to know how much warm water is flowing in. What things drive it," Straneo tells me as she looks up the fjord at a cluster of icebergs. They will eventually be deposited in the ocean. "It appears climate change has shifted ocean currents sending subtropical water up to this environment. That warm water makes its way to the base of the glacier," she continued.

The threat has become two-fold. Warm air attacks glaciers from above. Warm water attacks from below. In the past decade the Greenland ice sheet's rate of melting has doubled. That's faster than ever recorded. Scientists say if all of Greenland's ice were to melt, oceans would rise by 20 feet, threatening coastal communities world wide. Straneo's research could predict how much the ocean will rise in the next century.


The views of the author are his/her own and do not necessarily represent the position of The Weather Company or its parent, IBM.

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9:41 PM GMT on June 08, 2014
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