Greenland found to be full of hidden ice canyons - and why this is bad news
By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)
5/20/2014 (3 years ago)
Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)
On the heels of an announcement by the European Space Agency that the Antarctic ice sheets are melting, scientists have released a detailed study of the ice in Greenland. Part of their conclusions show that melting glaciers hidden in deep canyons could contribute more to sea level rise than previously thought.
Greenland is covered with ice, which makes it a major contributor to sea level rise, should it melt.
LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - Researchers in California have managed to use satellite data to peer underneath Greenland's ice sheets. The data revealed as many as 100 hidden valleys in Greenland which are so deep, some of them are below sea level. All of them are filled with ice, and they are melting.
Current estimates suggest that meltwater from Greenland is contributing to about 10 percent of the world's current sea-level rise, a distant second to that coming from Antarctica. However, these estimates will need to be revised upwards if the data is accurate.
This means Greenland could hold even more freshwater which could be dumped into the oceans as the temperature warms. Researchers believe about half of Greenland's ice will melt in coming centuries according to current global warming models.
The geography of the massive island could also mean that glaciers melt faster and retreat farther inland than previously anticipated, according to Mathieu Morlighem, a scientist at University of California, Irvine who led the UC Irvine team. The problem is that Greenland is flatter than previously assumed, so the lower landmass means more melting for the glaciers. Higher landmass where glaciers should survive is farther inland.
The study was conducted in coordination with NASA.
Professor Morlighem told Live Science, "Greenland is more vulnerable than we thought, but we can't say by how much."
In a few hundred years, the melting from Greenland and Antarctica is expected to contribute to a sea level rise around 12 feet. Such changes would alter the world's coastlines dramatically, force the resettlement of large numbers of people, and will be substantially disruptive.
Scientists argue that current observations reveal just the beginning stages of runaway climate change where the impacts are barely becoming visible.
Others argue, including some scientists, that climate change research is inconclusive, or that the causes of climate change and the ability of governments and individuals to respond is negligible and is therefore a moot issue.
The data on melting ice and climate change continues to come in and make world news headlines. However, virtually none of it has had any significant impact on world policies.
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