Quantcast

Study Finds Greenland Glaciers Losing 10 Billion Tons of Ice Per Year

Climate

The glaciers of northeast Greenland, long thought to be the most stable part of the massive Greenland ice sheet, are melting at an accelerating pace, losing roughly 10 billion tons of ice annually for the past decade, say researchers from the U.S. and Denmark.

This map shows major ice drainages in Greenland, along with measured ice surface velocities. The northeast Greenland ice stream (NEGIS) now appears to be retreating as rapidly, or perhaps more rapidly, than other parts of the ice sheet, including Jakobshavn Isbræ (JI), Helheim Glacier (HG) and Kangerdlugssuaq (KG). Catchments for those regions are outlined on the map. Image credit: The Ohio State University, Natural History Museum of Denmark

The finding will likely boost estimates of global sea level rise, which had previously not accounted for massive ice loss from that region, scientists say. The Zachariae ice stream in northeast Greenland, which drains 16 percent of the ice sheet, has retreated roughly 12.4 miles during the past decade, outpacing the fast-moving Jakobshavn glacier, which has retreated 21.7 miles over the last 150 years.

Ice loss from the region is likely accelerating, the researchers say, because ice dams in nearby bays that had been blocking the glaciers' paths are now also melting, freeing the way for them to flow into the ocean.

"Northeast Greenland is very cold—it used to be considered the last stable part of the Greenland ice sheet," explained the lead researcher of the report, which was published in Nature Climate Change. "This study shows that ice loss in the northeast is now accelerating. So, now it seems that all of the margins of the Greenland ice sheet are unstable."

Other recent studies had estimated more moderate ice loss from Greenland's northeast.

Visit EcoWatch’s CLIMATE CHANGE page for more related news on this topic.

EcoWatch Daily Newsletter

Beekeeper Jeff Anderson works with members of his family in this photo from 2014. He once employed all of his adult children but can no longer afford to do so. CHRIS JORDAN-BLOCH / EARTHJUSTICE

By Jessica A. Knoblauch

It's been a particularly terrible summer for bees. Recently, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced it is allowing the bee-killing pesticide sulfoxaflor back on the market. And just a few weeks prior, the USDA announced it is suspending data collection for its annual honeybee survey, which tracks honeybee populations across the U.S., providing critical information to farmers and scientists.

Read More Show Less

tommaso79 / iStock / Getty Images Plus

By Rachel Licker

As a new mom, I've had to think about heat safety in many new ways since pregnant women and young children are among the most vulnerable to extreme heat.

Read More Show Less
Sponsored
Golde Wallingford submitted this photo of "Pure Joy" to EcoWatch's first photo contest. Golde Wallingford

EcoWatch is pleased to announce our third photo contest!

Read More Show Less
Pexels

By Kris Gunnars, BSc

It's easy to get confused about which foods are healthy and which aren't.

Read More Show Less
Maximum heat indices expected in the continental U.S. on Saturday July 20. NOAA WPC

A dangerous heat wave is expected to boil much of the Central and Eastern U.S. beginning Wednesday, The Washington Post reported.

Read More Show Less
Sponsored
Retired Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens, who was appointed by President Gerald Ford in 1975, was presented with the Presidential Medal of Freedom by President Barack Obama on May 29, 2012. MANDEL NGAN / AFP / GettyImages

John Paul Stevens, the retired Supreme Court Justice who wrote the opinion granting environmental agencies the power to regulate greenhouse gases, died Tuesday at the age of 99. His decision gave the U.S. government important legal tools for fighting the climate crisis.

Read More Show Less
EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler signs the so-called Affordable Clean Energy rule on June 19, replacing the Obama-era Clean Power Plan that would have reduced coal-fired plant carbon emissions. U.S. Environmental Protection Agency / Twitter

By Elliott Negin

On July 8, President Trump hosted a White House event to unabashedly tout his truly abysmal environmental record. The following day, coincidentally, marked the one-year anniversary of Andrew Wheeler at the helm of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), first as acting administrator and then as administrator after the Senate confirmed him in late February.

Read More Show Less
A timber sale in the Kaibab National Forest. Dyan Bone / Forest Service / Southwestern Region / Kaibab National Forest

By Tara Lohan

If you're a lover of wilderness, wildlife, the American West and the public lands on which they all depend, then journalist Christopher Ketcham's new book is required — if depressing — reading.

Read More Show Less