Greenland’s landmass rising due to shrinking ice cap

November 14th, 2007 - 8:21 am ICT by admin  
A team from the Danish National Space Center in Copenhagen detected the country’s uplift using measurements from GPS stations located on the bedrock, underneath the ice. The team has been monitoring data from these stations since 2001 and has found that the southeastern tip of the country is definitely rising upwards.

“Before 2004, the uplift was about 0.5 cm to 1 cm per year,” said Shfaqat Khan, a member of the research team. “Since then, however, the land has been rising four times faster. This means that since 2004, Greenland has been losing four times more ice than before,” he said.

Khan and his team have also found that the rate of rise has dramatically accelerated in recent years. They are unsure about the cause of the acceleration and caution that it is impossible to say if this speedy loss will be maintained in the long-term. “It could be that more melt water is flowing into crevasses, which is making the glaciers flow into the ocean faster,” said Khan.

Research done at NASA has shown that warmer temperatures due to global warming are melting ice at the surface of Greenland’s glaciers. The warm water is boring holes through the glaciers, creating vertical rivers whose water lubricates the bottom of the glaciers once it reaches the bedrock. This process makes glaciers speed faster towards the sea, where they break off and eventually melt.

Such uplift is not an unknown phenomenon. Relic “raised beaches” are relatively common in some areas, where the loss of ice after the last Ice Age caused the land to rise, leaving beaches often metres above the water. (ANI)

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