News / Science & Technology

Stable Region of Greenland Ice Sheet Losing Mass

Ice Mass Loss in Northeastern Greenlandi
|| 0:00:00
...  
🔇
X
March 16, 2014 12:55 PM
Kurt Kjaer of the University of Copenhagen provides an eyewitness account of a calving event at the Helheim Glacier in Southeastern Greenland. (Video by Kristian Kjellerup Kjeldsen, Natural History Museum of Denmark)
Rosanne Skirble
A new study finds dramatic new thinning in the Greenland ice sheet in a region that was considered stable until now.

Last July, Kurt Kjaer was collecting sample sediment cores from a lake bed in southeastern Greenland when his science team witnessed a dramatic event.

“We landed and suddenly you could feel that the ground was starting to shake," he remembers.  

The research director of the Natural History Museum of Denmark at the University of Copenhagen is co-author of the new study about the Greenland ice sheet.

Stable Region of Greenland Ice Sheet Losing Mass
Stable Region of Greenland Ice Sheet Losing Mass i
|| 0:00:00
...    
🔇
X

“We turned around and we could see, ‘Oh, there’s a calving event.' Two huge icebergs that are 700 meters deep that are coming out of there, that has been released from the glacier and that is turning around," Kjaer said. "And you can actually pick up the signal from seismic space due to the shaking of the earth all the way down to Japan.”  
Ice sheets - like those in Greenland and Antarctica - are constantly in motion. Calving at the ocean’s edge is part that natural cycle as the ice mass flows downhill under its own weight, moving through ice streams, glaciers and ice shelves. The sheet remains stable as long as it accumulates the same mass of snow that it loses at sea.  

For their study in Nature Climate Change, the scientists collected surface elevation from the entire ice sheet using satellite data. While they knew that the southeast and northwest were already losing mass at accelerated rates, Kjaer says they hadn’t expected to see sustained loss in northeastern Greenland, which was considered stable.

Northeast Greenland Ice Stream Animationi
|| 0:00:00
...  
🔇
X
March 16, 2014 1:44 PM
Kurt Kjaer of the University of Copenhagen describes the ice mass loss in northeastern Greenland. (Credit: Kristian Kjellerup Kjeldsen, Natural History Museum of Denmark)

“It’s a new area that started to react to a warmer climate," he said. "And it’s warming in the sense that it’s a warmer summer temperatures and warmer ocean temperatures.”  

Reduced sea ice where the glacier meets the warmer ocean allows icebergs to break off from the edge of the shelf. That causes the ice stream to accelerate toward the sea. The northeastern ice stream drains almost 16 percent of Greenland.

Kjaer's findings will likely affect the models of future sea level rise.

“Of course it’s a concern," he said. "If you have an area in Greenland like the northeastern section that has been considered stable and not contributing to any significant sea level rise, it somewhat a bigger surprise you can say.”

He adds that scientists will look back at the history of the ice sheet, to put the more recent observations in perspective.

“But my feeling is that we will see that mass lost that we are seeing over the last ten years is something out of the ordinary.”  

Kjaer says the new data will improve predictions of changes in a warmer world.

You May Like

Video Indiana Controversy Points to Divergent Notions of Religious Freedom

Gay-marriage opponents are looking for ways to maintain their beliefs in face of changing culture, one writer says More

UNICEF Denies North Korean Measles Outbreak

Agency dismisses Russian media report after government, WHO assurances More

Turkey Seen Taking Harder Stance Against Militant Kurds

Stance comes as President Recep Tayyip Erdogan is being seen as moving closer to generals More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: Ray Del Colle from: Bristol, RI
March 17, 2014 10:10 AM
"Ask any climate scientist: Carbon pollution from dirty energy is the main cause of global warming." http://clmtr.lt/c/EgE0cd0cMJ

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Indiana Controversy Highlights Divergent Meanings of Religious Freedomi
X
Jerome Socolovsky
April 01, 2015 1:41 AM
Indiana’s state government has triggered a nationwide controversy by approving a law that critics say is aimed at allowing discrimination against gays and lesbians. The controversy stems from divergent notions of religious freedom in America. VOA's Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Indiana Controversy Highlights Divergent Meanings of Religious Freedom

Indiana’s state government has triggered a nationwide controversy by approving a law that critics say is aimed at allowing discrimination against gays and lesbians. The controversy stems from divergent notions of religious freedom in America. VOA's Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Nigerians Welcome Buhari's Return to Power

Crowds of jubilant Nigerians nationwide have celebrated the return to power of former military ruler Muhammadu Buhari. The retired army general won this year's presidential election with more than 2 million votes more than incumbent President Goodluck Jonathan. Buhari's supporters hope he can strengthen the country's economy and security once he takes office in late May. Zlatica Hoke has this story.
Video

Video Report: State of Black America a 'Tale of Two Nations'

The National Urban League has described this year's "State of Black America" report as a "tale of two nations." The group's annual report, released earlier this month (March), found that under an equality index African Americans had only 72% parity compared to whites in areas such as education, economics, health, social justice and civic engagement. It’s a gap that educators and students at Brooklyn’s Medgar Evers College are looking to close. VOA's Daniela Schrier reports from the school.
Video

Video Film Tells Story of Musicians in Mali Threatened by Jihadists

At this year's annual South by Southwest film and music festival in Austin, Texas, some musicians from Mali were on hand to promote a film about how their lives were upturned by jihadists who destroyed ancient treasures in the city of Timbuktu and prohibited anyone from playing music under threat of death. As VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Austin, some are afraid to return to their hometowns even though the jihadists are no longer in control there.
Video

Video Gamma Ray Observatory to Open Soon in Mexico

American and Mexican scientists have completed construction of the world's largest gamma ray observatory, situated high in central Mexico’s Sierra Negra Mountain. The observatory's huge array of water-based detectors will soon start discovering secrets about black holes and supernovas. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Ebola Vaccine Trials Underway in West Africa

Ebola has claimed the lives of more than 10,000 people in West Africa. Since last summer, researchers have rushed to get anti-Ebola vaccines into clinical trials. While it's too early to say that any of the potential vaccines work, some scientists say they are seeing strong results from some of the studies. VOA's Carol Pearson reports.
Video

Video Philippines Wants Tourists Spending Money at New Casinos

Tourism is a multi-billion dollar industry in the Philippines. Close to five million foreign visitors traveled there last year, perhaps lured by the country’s tropical beaches. But Jason Strother reports from Manila that the country hopes to entice more travelers to stay indoors and spend money inside new casinos.
Video

Video Civilian Casualties Push Men to Join Rebels in Ukraine

The continued fighting in eastern Ukraine and the shelling of civilian neighborhoods seem to be pushing more men to join the separatist fighters. Many of the new recruits are residents of Ukraine made bitter by new grievances, as well as old. VOA's Patrick Wells reports.
Video

Video Islamic State Prisoners Talk of Curiosity, God, Regret

Islamic State fighter, a prisoner of Kurdish YPG forces, asked his family asking for forgiveness: "I destroyed myself and I destroyed them along with me." The Syrian youth was one of two detainees who spoke to VOA’s Kurdish Service about the path they chose; their names have been changed and identifying details obscured. VOA's Zana Omer reports.
Video

Video Germanwings Findings Raise Issue of Psychological Testing for Pilots

More is being discovered about the co-pilot in the crash of Germanwings Flight 9525 in the French Alps. Investigators say he was hiding a medical condition, raising questions about the mental qualifications of pilots. VOA's Carolyn Presutti reports.
Video

Video Liberia's Almost Last Ebola Patient Grateful but Still Grieving

Beatrice Yardolo was to make history as Liberia’s last Ebola patient. Liberians recently started counting down 42 days, the period that has to go by without a single new infection until the World Health Organization can declare a country Ebola-free. That countdown stopped on March 20 when there was another new case of Ebola, making Yardolo’s story a reminder that Ebola is far from over. Benno Muchler reports from Monrovia.
Video

Video Cambodian Land Grabs Threaten Traditional Communities

Indigenous communities in Cambodia's Ratanakiri province say the government’s economic land concession policy is taking away their land and traditional way of life, making many fear that their identity will soon be lost. Local authorities, though, have denied this is the case. VOA's Say Mony went to investigate and filed this report, narrated by Colin Lovett.

VOA Blogs

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More