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GPS & Global Warming -Ice Loss in Greenland

by diane 2010-03-24 04:08

In the last ten years Greenland’s ice sheet has been losing ice  in the southern region of the country has recently now made its up to the  northwest coast. A new international study shows the increase in ice-loss began to move up the northwest coast late in 2005.

The team researching and watching the ice melt have gathered information from NASA’s Gravity and Recovery Climate Experiment satellite system (GRACE) with continuous GPS measurements made from long-term sites on the bedrock on the edges of these ice sheet. The data from the GPS and GRACE presented the research team with monthly reports of crustal uplift caused by ice-mass loss.

“Our results show that the ice loss, which has been well documented over southern portions of Greenland, is now spreading up along the northwest coast,” says Shfaqat Abbas Khan, lead author on a paper about this very subject that was published in Geophysical Research Letters.

The team found that uplift rates on Greenland’s northwest coast increased about 4 centimeters, or roughly 1.5 inches, from October 2005 to August 2009 by reviewing reports that combined the uplift measured by GRACE over United Kingdom-sized chunks of Greenland while the GPS receivers monitor crustal uplift on scales of just tens of miles.

Due to the low resolution of GRACE, the team can not pinpoint the source of the ice loss, yet the fact remains that the ice sheet is losing mass closer to the margins suggesting the flow of Greenland outlet glaciers are increasing rapidly, state the study authors.

When we look at the monthly values from GRACE, the ice mass loss has been very dramatic along the northwest coast of Greenland. This is a phenomenon that was undocumented before this study. Our speculation is that some of the big glaciers in this region are sliding downhill faster and dumping more ice in the ocean.


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