Numerous climatic events have come to our attention over the last several months in the Northern Polar Regions. The Arctic ice cap is melting at a rate that could make it disappear by the end of this century, or earlier. Late last year an island, once covered in ice, emerged off the coast of Greenland. While the Arctic ice cap will have little if any impact on sea level rise since it's full volume currently floats in the ocean and its displacement is already present, these melting trends may not be limited to the Arctic. That is why the emergence of a previously unknown island due to ice melt is alarming. The melting of the Greenland ice sheet would cause "catastrophic consequences for low-lying countries like Bangladesh and the Maldives" and cities such as London, New Orleans and Los Angeles. In addition to sea level rise, the melting of the ice sheet could affect ocean circulation, global heat transfer and atmospheric circulation.
Late last month NASA released a study reporting
...that 2007 marked an overall rise in the melting trend over the entire Greenland ice sheet and, remarkably, melting in high-altitude areas was greater than ever at 150 percent more than average.
[The study] also confirmed that the melting index this year in lower altitude areas of Greenland, though not record breaking, was higher than average by 30 percent
The author of the study confirmed that potential consequences reach far beyond Greenland. "Aside from contributing to direct sea level rise, melting especially along the coast can speed up glaciers... The faster glaciers flow, the more water enters the ocean and potentially impacts sea level rise."
The newfound island once sequestered by ice is now accessible, but it may soon be submerged by the unchecked melt of the Greenland ice sheet.
Posted by Geoff
Labels: climate change, Greenland, Ice