Saturday January 09, 2016

Greenland Ice Sheet Slip Sliding Away

The Upernavik Glacier in northwest Greenland is melting into a lake. Greenland's ice sheet has been melting twice as fast during the 21st century as it did during the 20th.

The Upernavik Glacier in northwest Greenland is melting into a lake. Greenland's ice sheet has been melting twice as fast during the 21st century as it did during the 20th. (Niels Jákup Korsgaard/Natural History Museum of Denmark)

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The Greenland Ice Sheet is the second largest in the world, measuring 2,400 kilometres in length, 1,100 kilometres in width and 3 kilometres thick in places. Satellite images - available since 1992 - indicate that it is melting at an alarming rate and contributing significantly to global sea level rise.

In fact, between 2003 and 2010, Greenland dumped 186 billion tonnes of melt water per year into the world's oceans. But a new study by Dr. William Colgan, an Assistant Professor at the Lassonde School of Engineering at York University in Toronto, has compared the more recent satellite information with thousands of aerial 3-D photographs of Greenland dating back to 1900.

The results show that current climate conditions have caused the Greenland Ice Sheet to melt nearly 3 times as fast in recent years as it did during the entire 20th century.

Related Links

Paper in Nature
- University of Copenhagen release
- CBC News story
Scientific American story
- York University release on follow-up study
- CBC News - follow up story