Greenland's Ice Loss Now Comes from Surface

Greenland's disappearing ice shifted gears within the past decade, switching from shrinking glaciers to floor melting, researchers suggested here last week on the American Geophysical Union's annual assembly.

Instead of dropping ice where huge glaciers meet the ocean, Greenland now sends meltwater rushing into the sea via a significant community of lakes and rivers, consistent with numerous research. The effects do no longer imply that glaciers have stopped their speedy float, most effective that surface melting now exerts a greater powerful have an effect on on ice loss, researchers stated.

 "We no longer see giant icebergs calving" from glaciers, liberating ice into the ocean, stated Lora Koenig, a glaciologist on the National Snow and Ice Data Center, who led one of the new studies. "The majority of water is coming from surface melt." [Photos: Under the Greenland Ice Sheet]

Koenig found that lakes in west Greenland now stay liquid thru the frigid wintry weather, as long as an insulating snow blanket continues the water warm. These lakes get a head start on melting the next summer season. "Water is not a great component to have persisting yr-spherical," Koenig stated Dec. 15 at a information convention. "What this water is clearly doing is priming the pump [for melting] for the next season."

The meltwater boosts sea degrees, which might be projected to rise through 1 to four toes (zero.Three to one.2 meters) by using 2100, in line with the National Climate Assessment. Water that percolates under the ice sheet can also lubricate the bottom of Greenland's glaciers, rushing up ice go with the flow. But researchers are still figuring out wherein all of this new floor meltwater will grow to be.

"The water is what we have to observe," stated Vena Chu, a hydrologist and graduate scholar at the University of California, Los Angeles.

Follow the water

For instance, each summer, a considerable community of rivers seems in Greenland, channeling meltwater off the ice surface. Researchers said they want to know how a lot water refreezes in location, how lots ends up beneath the ice sheet and how much flows out to sea. By tracking west Greenland's rivers on satellite pictures, Chu discovered that the river water all disappears into moulins — deep cracks that steeply plunge into the ice, she stated at the assembly.

"Now we need to recognise if the water gets caught in there or if it comes immediately out [to the ocean]," Chu said.
The growing flood of floor runoff has additionally converted snow layers that blanket the ice sheet, researchers suggested Dec. 16. Typically, the top of the ice sheet is blanketed by means of in part frozen, old snow referred to as firn, that may suck up summer meltwater like a sponge. But 12 years of heavy summer melts have crushed the firn's capability in southwest Greenland, said Mike MacFerrin, a glaciologist and graduate scholar on the University of Colorado, Boulder.

The waterlogged snow is now frozen solid in many locations, with ice more than 15 toes (4.6 m) thick just under the floor, he said. Now, summer time meltwater streams over the ice instead of sinking into the snow. In 2012, this caused document flooding throughout a big soften occasion in Greenland, stated MacFerrin, who led the have a look at.

However, in different areas, Greenland's old snow still stockpiles large amounts of water. Rick Forster, a glaciologist on the University of Utah, has exposed additional evidence of a shallow aquifer of liquid water in southern and western Greenland. In 2013, Forster said that components of Greenland's snow firn keep an expected one hundred billion gallons of water thru the winter months within the southeast. 

From sea to surface

Koenig said global warming has induced the shift to surface melting, which came about among 2006 and 2009. Temperatures within the Arctic are rising two times as fast than at decrease latitudes, consistent with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's annual "Arctic Report Card."

Greenland's glaciers have answered quick to converting temperatures inside the beyond, said Anders Bjork, a researcher at the Natural History Museum of Denmark.

Using historic images from Danish aerial surveys of Greenland, Bjork mapped out the development and retreat of glaciers that passed off whilst temperatures climbed between the years 1900 and 1930. The retreat changed into greater fast than has been visible in the last 15 years, he said.

Though the beyond century of exchange seems remarkably fast, usual, the Greenland Ice Sheet is more resilient than the majority anticipate, said glaciologist Dorthe Dahl-Jensen, head of the University of Copenhagen's Center for Ice and Climate. The ice has survived 900,000 years of climate alternate, and it might take a temperature upward push of 18 ranges Fahrenheit (10 levels Celsius) before a forest begins to grow again in Greenland, she suggested right here Dec. 17.

"We are simply seeing the start of a response to the warming," Dahl-Jensen said.

Source : Live Science

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