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Greenland Glacier Slides Much Faster in Summer

Posted by feww on May 10, 2010

Greenland glacier slide 220 percent faster in summer: Study

In case anyone doubted the obvious, researchers in Scotland have quantified the differential in the rate of slide of Greenland glacier. The movement of ice sliding down toward the sea is 220 percent faster in summer than in winter, they said.


You think it’s fun to swim in slushy ice water instead of walking on firm ice? Photo Credit: Dan Crosbie (public domain). Click image to enlarge.

The researchers say recent observations of Greenland glacier movement highlighted significant seasonal differences.

Greenland, the world’s second biggest ice sheet after Antarctica, could raise sea levels globally by about 6.7  meters (22 ft) if it melted.

GPS satellite measurements of the glacier movement in south-west Greenland showed that the ice in some places is sliding at 300 meters per year during summer.

“Our measurements reveal substantial increases in ice velocity during summer, up to 220 percent above winter background values,” the study reported.

What if the temperatures were getting warmer all year round?


The map shows temperature changes for the last decade — January 2000 to December 2009 — relative to the 1951-1980 mean. Warmer areas are in red, cooler areas in blue. The largest temperature increases occurred in the Arctic and a portion of Antarctica. (Image credit: NASA). Click image to enlarge.


Arctic Temperatures Trend 1987-2007 Using Satellite Data 1981-2007. Source: NASA

The researchers attribute the summer slide to melt water pooling under the ice.

“In a warming climate, with longer and more intense summer melt seasons, we would expect that water will reach the bed farther inland and a larger portion of the ice sheet will experience summer velocity changes.” The study says.

The study was published in the journal Nature Geoscience on Sunday.


Click image to enlarge.


Greenland Melt Extent, 2005: Konrad Steffen and Russell Huff – Cooperative Institute for Research in Environmental Sciences (CIRES), University of Colorado at Boulder

Greenland Ice Sheet

The Greenland ice sheet is a massive glacier (body of ice)  covering more than 1,700,000 square kilometers (664,235 sq miles), which used to cover about 80% of Greenland’s land surface.


Chenega Glacier is an active glacier in Prince William Sound, on the Kenai Peninsula in Alaska. Source: DOI, US Gov.


Chenega Glacier located in the Chugach National Forest, Chugach Mountains, Prince William Sound.Photo Dated 17 June 2004. Source: US Fish and Wildlife Services. Click image to enlarge.

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