Feb 19, 2006

Greenland's Glacial Ice Loss Doubled In Last Decade


Left: The Kangerdlussuaq Glacier, East Greenland, courtesy of New Scientist

The loss of ice in the island of Greenland doubled between 1996 and 2005, and its glaciers flowed more quickly into the ocean in response to a warmer climate, according to a NASA/University of Kansas study.

The study, which will be published tomorrow in the journal Science, argues that the changes to Greenland's glaciers in the past decade are massive, extend across the land mass, and have taken place over a sustained period of time. They are progressively affecting the entire ice sheet and increasing its contribution to global sea level rise.

The Greenland Ice Sheet – a huge mass of glacial ice and snow covering some 1.9 million square kilometers –is twice the area of France and Germany combined. It occupies approximately 82 percent of Greenland's totl land mass.

In the past 20 years, the average air temperature in southeast Greenland has risen by 3 dgrees Celsius. Estimates suggest that the average ocean levels would rise 7.2 meters if the entire Greenland Ice Sheet melted.

As the sea levels rise, continental coastlines would move inland, and many island nations would suffer significant incursions of sea water into rivers, streams, and aquifiers. This chain of events could affect agriculture and drinking water, while many smaller islands might disappear below the ocean surface.

"We are witnessing enormous changes," said Eric Rignot from the Jet Propulsion Laboratory at Caltech in Pasadena, CA. "These are very active glaciers...Similar to the glaciers in Alaska, once you push them a little bit out of equilibrium they start thinning and retreating very fast."


Stefan Schmidt said...

Hundreds of years ago Greenland was actually Green and the Norse had small settlements on this island. The onset of a new ice age drove them back to Scandinavia and other parts of Europe.

Weather is hard to predict and understand due to all the variables that exist.

liberal_dem said...

The only question to ask is: Has the Bush Administration deferred to the oil companies long enough or do they go for all 8 years of his terms? Recall that 'there wasn't enough scientific study' to conclude that greenhouse gases were actually colecting in the atmosphere.

historymike said...

Stefan refers to the Little Ice Age that started in the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries.

I agree, liberal dem. We have a very anti-environmental administration right now that completely buys into the "nothing to worry about here" argument.

Anonymous said...

Maybe this is a good thing--we can give the Israel or Palestines this piece of land to end the nonsense in the Middle East or whatnot. Lord knows we are running out of space to keep everyone happy.

Lisa Renee said...

I just watched a show last night on History Channel about the Vikings. There was a climate change during the time of Eric the Red as far as colder conditions.

When they started moving the weather was alot warmer it was called the "Medival Warm Period" by some. Then the mini ice age hit.

One site on it that is kind of interesting:


Here's the basic jist of the tv special I watched last night:


Though Stefan, most of Greenland wasn't Green, it was said was a ploy to make the new country sound "better". Some of the South was green but the majority inland was very harsh living conditions even during the MVP from what I've read.

Stephanie said...

Greenland was bigger, but not green. Iceland was smaller, but more desirable because it was green. They tricked much of the population that wished to move to go to Greenland while they, those in power, got Iceland.

At least, that's the way I heard it, but that's relying on public education.

Name withheld to protect the guilty said...

While there's no doubt that this Administration has often sought to eliminate dissent from its ranks, sometimes by ignoring scientists, it's hard for me to listen to many of the climate alarmists, since 30 years ago they were the ones saying our industrial products were going to bring in an Eternal Winter.

I will concede that science has greatly improved in many ways since then, but it is rather difficult to get accurate results in this sort of science because there is no "control" group. We don't have a sister planet with no people on it, so anything we say about human effects on global climate change is basically extrapolations from small-scale experiments, the validity of which we have no way of testing, which is how we get so many contradictory bits of info.

Allow me to quote the Amateur Geologist website: "global ice mass has undergone huge fluctuations on the order of 10E19 kg (equivalent to more than 100 meters of sea level) during the last million years." Which suggests to me that Mother Earth/God/Yahweh/whatever is a little more powerful than all of us combined.