Greenland’s Ice Sheet Is Slip-Sliding Away

Antarctic and Greenland ice sheets are melting find new studies

The European Space Agency
March 17, 2006

Scientists have confirmed that climate warming is changing how much water remains locked in the Antarctic and Greenland ice sheets, according to an article published in the Journal of Glaciology.
Recent radar altimeter data from ESA’s ERS-1 and ERS-2, Jay Zwally, a scientist at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center, and his colleagues mapped the height of the ice sheets and found there was a net loss of ice from the combined sheets between 1992 and 2002 and a corresponding rise in sea levels.

The study found that Antarctica lost much more ice to the sea than it gained from snowfall, resulting in an increase in sea level. All the while Greenland ice sheets gained more ice from snowfall. Especially at high altitudes than it lost from melting ice along its coast.

A recent study by Eric Rignot of NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory and University of Kansas scientist Pannir Kanagaratnam, published in Science in February, showed Greenland glaciers are melting into the sea twice as fast as previously believed.

Ice glacier

The massive glaciers are deteriorating twice as fast as they were five years ago.

Polar ice plays a crucial role in regulating global climate because it reflects about 80 percent of the incoming sunlight. If the ice caps over the polar ocean melt, the ocean water would absorb a large part of the radiation energy, which would lead to further melting of the ice and further warming of the climate.

According to the NASA study, published in the March edition, 20 billion net tonnes of water are added to oceans each year as a result of Greenland’s ice sheet gaining some 11 billion tonnes of water annually, while Antarctica loses about 31 billion tonnes per year.

Finally, as Phys.org said: The evolution of Greenland’s ice sheet is being driven by several factors. These include accumulation of snow in its interior. Also which adds mass and lowers sea level. In addition, melting of ice along its edges. That which decreases mass and raises sea level. Finally and the flow of ice into the sea from outlet glaciers along its edges. All which also decreases mass and raises sea level.

Glacier Ice Flow

This study focuses on the least well known component of change. One which is called glacial ice flow. Its results are combined with estimates of changes in snow accumulation and ice melt. All from an independent study. For that’s to determine the total change in mass of the Greenland ice sheet.

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