London, May 19 (ANI): Scientists are astounded as rapid ice meltdown in Greenland is causing the land to rise quickly.
Moving glaciers in Greenland form dense icecaps up to 2 km thick that covers most of the island. These icecaps also press down hard on the land beneath, lowering its elevation.
Scientists from the University of Miami have now found that these icecaps are melting, causing some coastal lands to rise by nearly one inch per year.
If this trend continues, that number could accelerate to as much as two inches per year by 2025, explains Tim Dixon, professor of geophysics at the University of Miami Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Science (RSMAS) and principal investigator of the study.
"It's been known for several years that climate change is contributing to the melting of Greenland's ice sheet," Dixon says. "What's surprising, and a bit worrisome, is that the ice is melting so fast that we can actually see the land uplift in response," he says. "Even more surprising, the rise seems to be accelerating, implying that melting is accelerating."
The same process is affecting the islands of Iceland and Svalbard, which also have ice caps, explains Shimon Wdowinski, research associate professor in the University of Miami RSMAS, and co-author of the study.
"During ice ages and in times of ice accumulation, the ice suppresses the land," Wdowinski says. "When the ice melts, the land rebounds upwards," he says. "Our study is consistent with a number of global warming indicators, confirming that ice melt and sea level rise are real and becoming significant."
The measurements are restricted to places where rock is exposed, limiting the study to coastal areas. However, previous data indicate yearly losses from ice melting and flowing toward the coast are balanced by new snow accumulation, which gradually turns to ice.
Most ice loss occurs at the warmer coast, by melting and iceberg calving and where the GPS data are most sensitive to changes. In western Greenland, the uplift seems to have started in the late 1990's.
Because of the rapid ice melting, Greenland could be the largest contributor to global sea level rise, explains Yan Jiang, Ph.D. candidate at the University of Miami RSMAS and co-author of the study.
"Greenland's ice melt is very important because it has a big impact on global sea level rise," Jiang says. "We hope that our work reaches the general public and that this information is considered by policy makers."
The paper is now available as an advanced online publication, by Nature Geoscience. (ANI)