Published On: Wed, May 21st, 2014

Greenland’s ice caps are bigger than thought previously. So what?

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Lots of interesting science coming out at the moment about the impact of global warming on sea levels.  A new report about Greenland claims that the ice that is trapped on land is much greater than previously thought.  So what, you might ask.  The reason it is a problem is that ice on land in the form of glaciers does not contribute to the height of sea levels.  Once it melts, however, it flows into the sea, causing sea level rises.  Scientists have been worried about collapsing Greenland glaciers for a while.  Now they have discovered that the amount of water going into the sea is far greater than previously estimated.  This is bad news if you are one of the few billion people who live close to the sea.


The bedrock canyons sit well below sea level, meaning that as subtropical Atlantic waters hit the fronts of hundreds of glaciers, those edges will erode much further than had been assumed and release far greater amounts of water.

Ice melt from the subcontinent has already accelerated as warmer marine currents have migrated north, but older models predicted that once higher ground was reached in a few years, the ocean-induced melting would halt. Greenland’s frozen mass would stop shrinking, and its effect on higher sea waters would be curtailed.

“That turns out to be incorrect. The glaciers of Greenland are likely to retreat faster and farther inland than anticipated – and for much longer – according to this very different topography we’ve discovered beneath the ice,” said lead author Mathieu Morlighem, a UCI associate project scientist. “This has major implications, because the glacier melt will contribute much more to rising seas around the globe.”

Greenland glaciersRead more at:

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