Melting of Greenland glacier to speed up

  • The Greenland ice sheet is likely to melt faster in the years to come, despite a recent slowdown, researchers said after making a new discovery about the way glaciers move.

  • Greenland contains enough ice to make the sea level mount 23 feet (seven meters) if it were to melt completely.

  • The findings in the journal Science Advances show that ice in Greenland moves more quickly over sediment than hard rock.

  • That means that as the world warms due to climate change, ice flow will likely speed up because the sediment beneath Greenland will become weaker, wetter and more slippery.

  • “Greenland’s margin has many outlet glaciers that act as fast conveyor belts of ice. Thousands of surface lakes act as taps that deliver meltwater to the ice base, turning it into a slippery bathtub.

  • “This discovery leaves us concerned because we have so far accepted the exact opposite — that Greenland’s icy conveyor would slow down.”

  • Researchers based their findings on seismic surveys that send acoustic waves through the ice to gain insights on the sediment underneath.

  • A previous theory held that glacier melt would slow down at the end of the summer.

  • But the seismic surveys showed that sediment played the key role in controlling ice sheet flow, and weakened subglacial sediment “leads to accelerated ice flow.”


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