Huntingdon Valley, PA -- (ReleaseWire) -- 04/16/2014 -- Within the ice sheets, Greenland contains 10% of the world's reserves of fresh water. Those sheets are massive, comprising millions of cubic meters spread over the island nation and are melting due to persistently warmer temperatures. Ice fishermen report that the thickness of sea ice has dropped by more than 3-feet in some parts while the steady erosion of glaciers is measured by scientists and photographed by tourists. In short, Greenland is losing the battle to global warming.
Why is the World so Concerned about Ice Melt in Greenland?
The ice sheets in Greenland are massive. Environmental scientists estimate that if all the ice currently stored on the island melted, worldwide sea levels would rise by 23 feet. Coastal cities would be severely affected and the risk of more violent sea storms substantially increases. In fact, cities such as Venice and New Orleans are already taking steps to prevent damage from rising waters.
Past projections for the rate of ice melt in Greenland predicted a much slower rate of melt than what is currently being recorded. Should the melt rate continue to rise, cities would have little time to prepare and would rapidly be submerged. This scenario frightens many climate specialists and are urging a rapid change in the way that humans use the energy believed to be responsible for the current state of global warming.
Why is the Ice in Greenland Melting Faster than Predicted?
The Arctic is warming faster than any other region on the planet. Once ice cover in an area melts, a cascading effect sets in. Since ice has a high degree of reflectivity, most of the warmth of the sun's rays were reflected back away from the ice and snow covered surfaces. Once the ground is exposed, the darker colored earth absorbs those rays and heats the ground.
Melting ice turns into water and water flows. While the turquoise colored streams flowing through the ice are a beautiful site to see, those streams are warmer than the ice that flows through and conduct heat throughout the glacial system. This additional distribution of heat stimulates further melt and more exposed ground for a potentially disastrous scenario.
Recent Ice Melts in Greenland
The northeast section of Greenland had been thought to be stable. Three large glaciers acted as a bulwark against a gigantic ice sheet preventing the flow of the sheets into the sea. The area is very dry and very cold. However, recent glacial melts have alarmed scientists. The potential route of the ice sheets is all downhill, so if these glaciers which have acted like brakes fail, it is feared that the movement of the ice sheets could be much more rapid than previously expected.
While the war against catastrophic changes due to global warming is not yet over, Greenland is losing this particular battle as the rate of ice melt continues to accelerate.
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