Scientists are surprised at the speed with which Greenland’s ice is melting and the corresponding surge of the land mass beneath.
[social_buttons]Findings published in an upcoming edition of Nature Geoscience show that the rapidly melting ice in Greenland is causing the land mass beneath to rise as the weight is lifted off the rock. According to scientists at the University of Miami, the ice is melting so quickly that the land underneath is rising at an accelerated pace, moving up in some areas by nearly one inch per year.
If the current speed with which the land rises continues the figure could be as much as two inches per year by 2025 and see Greenland become the world’s largest contributor to sea level rise.
“Greenland’s ice melt is very important because it has a big impact on global sea level rise,” says Yan Jiang, Ph.D. candidate at the University of Miami Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Science, and co-author of the study. “We hope that our work reaches the general public and that this information is considered by policy makers.”
“It’s been known for several years that climate change is contributing to the melting of Greenland’s ice sheet,” said Tim Dixon, professor of geophysics at the University of Miami Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Science (RSMAS) and principal investigator of the study. “What’s surprising, and a bit worrisome, is that the ice is melting so fast that we can actually see the land uplift in response. Even more surprising, the rise seems to be accelerating, implying that melting is accelerating.”
Locations such as Greenland, Iceland and Svalbard, as well as Antarctica, have such large concentrations of ice that the land mass is physically forced down. The removal of the ice thus allows for the land mass to rebound upwards. The speed with which this is happening has scientists concerned for the speed at which the ice is melting.
“During ice ages and in times of ice accumulation, the ice suppresses the land,” explains Shimon Wdowinski, research associate professor in the University of Miami RSMAS, and another co-author of the study. “When the ice melts, the land rebounds upwards. Our study is consistent with a number of global warming indicators, confirming that ice melt and sea level rise are real and becoming significant.”
The team used specialized GPS (global positioning system) receivers located on the coasts of Greenland, studying data gathered from 1995 onwards. They were able to gauge how far the land mass was surging upwards, and the speed at which it was doing so.
Constant melting of ice sheets such as Greenland’s has scientists worried for several reasons. Not only can the melting cause significant growth in the level of the oceans, but the input of so much fresh water can have devastating effects on the cycles of ocean currents. Subsequently the team plans to continues its studies.
Source: University of Miami
Image Source: NASA