Greenland Ice Melts: Worse Than Scientists Thought
Could Greenland become like the mythical Atlantis someday; completely submerged underwater? It certainly is possible with the increase in speed that the ice has been melting away.
For weeks now, there have been reports coming out on the melting ice problems that Greenland faces, but it seems things are much worse than scientists have anticipated. Shrinking faster than originally thought, researchers discovered that 81 of the 111 Greenland glaciers are thinning at what could be described as a self-feeding pace. Basically, the edges of two major ice sheets are melting at a quicker pace; so the more ice that melts, the more water will surround and eat away at the remaining ice.
Luckily, some of the areas of ice are at least a mile thick, so it will take some time to get through. However, the yearly thinning rate has sped up considerably, jumping 50% higher during the 2003-2007 from what it was during 1995-2003. The study also cannot answer the question of how much this rapid melting will affect sea levels rising due to global warming. One interesting (and maybe scary) thing to note is that a team of researchers have found subtropical water with a temperature around 39 degrees F (4 C) within the Sermilik fjord—which holds a wall of ice behind it that covers nearly 80% of the country. This confirms that Arctic waters–which usually dominated the region–have given way to subtropical water brought north by the Gulf Stream.
“We’ve actually measured the waters at their source and have seen their temperature going up, up, up in a way that can’t be explained without taking into account human influences,” says Ruth Curry, an American Climate scientist. “I think that we’ve done it, really kicked Earth’s climate system. And that says a lot. It’s a beast. It’s huge. And to have moved it in as short a period of time as a 100 years, basically, to have done that is enormous.”
Greenland is probably most well-known for its misnomer; even though it’s called Greenland, it’s actually covered with ice. Whether this naming was intentional or an error of translators is unknown, although it does have sparse patches of actual green and forested land. It’s also been thought that the massive ice covering actually shelters three separate islands. So, you have an island country going by an alias that is possibly hiding an amazing secret. Throw into the pot that it is also Danish territory, and you’ve got quite the interesting piece of land on your hands. It’s also quite ironic that their home country of Denmark is hosting the big climate change event of the year, yet they [Greenland] seem to be having some of the most trouble with the effects of the climate change.
One thing that may be unknown about the oceans of the world is that they actually help to contain global warming by absorbing approximately half of the CO2 emissions released into the atmosphere. The absorbing of that warmth is one big thing that’s been contributing to the rising sea levels, because water expands as it heats up. This has also caused some very confusing migratory patterns. More than 20 new species of fish have been found off the coast of Iceland, which don’t normally belong there, such as flounders and blue sharks. And let’s not forget the damaging impact this has on the Arctic’s polar bears and seals. Who could possibly forget the struggle that father polar bear went through on the movie “Earth”? I know I certainly can’t.
Greenland–and the rest of us–are in for some big trouble if things keep progressing as they have. The only positive thing that could be said if all of their ice melts away is that the remaining land would finally give their name some sense, provided it’s not hidden under a massive amount of water at that point.
I believe Jacques Cousteau said it best: “The war of the future will be between those who defend nature and those who destroy it.”
Which side will you be on?
By Heidi Marshall