Our directory of things of interest

University Directory

Entire Greenland ice sheet now unstable

  • Written by  Harley Rustad
  • Published in Polar
Kulusuk, Greenland Kulusuk, Greenland Shutterstock
01 May
2014
The last remaining stable region of the Greenland ice sheet is no longer stable, according to a new study published in Nature Climate Change

By analysing data from the Greenland GPS Network and satellite data on ice thickness, an international research team found that the Zachariae ice stream has receded by about 20 kilometres in the past decade.

‘Northeast Greenland is very cold. It used to be considered the last stable part of the Greenland ice sheet,’ said one of the study’s co-authors, Michael Bevis of Ohio State University. ‘This study shows that ice loss in the northeast is now accelerating. So, now it seems that all of the margins of the Greenland ice sheet are unstable.’

The largest ice stream in a drainage basin that covers 16 per cent of the Greenland ice sheet, Zachariae’s drainage was previously restricted by an ice-choked bay, but as the ice in the bay has retreated, the speed of the glacier has increased and more ice is being drawn down from the basin. ‘This suggests a possible positive feedback mechanism whereby retreat of the outlet glacier, in part due to warming of the air and in part due to glacier dynamics, leads to increased dynamic loss of ice upstream. This suggests that Greenland’s contribution to global sea- level rise may be even higher in the future,’ said Bevis.

This story was published in the May 2014 edition of Geographical Magazine

Related items

Julysub 2020

geo line break v3

Free eBooks - Geographical Newsletter

geo line break v3

EDUCATION PARTNERS

DurhamBath Spa600x200 Greenwich Aberystwythherts

TRAVEL PARTNERS

Ponant

Silversea

Travel the Unknown

NEVER MISS A STORY - Follow Geographical on Social

Want to stay up to date with breaking Geographical stories? Join the thousands following us on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram and stay informed about the world.

More articles in NATURE...

Wildlife

Rewilding projects across Europe are working to expand populations of…

Wildlife

Scientists are racing to prevent a deadly disease that kills…

Wildlife

Birds are a much-loved component of the natural world, serenading…

Tectonics

The unprecedented pause in human activity that took place during…

Wildlife

Since 2006, tiger habitats have shrunk by more than 40…

Climate

Advances in space-based lightning mapping have allowed scientists to measure…

Energy

The amount of energy used by the wealthy minority dwarfs…

Wildlife

Left denuded and depleted of wildlife following a decades-long civil…

Climate

Katie Burton explores the practicalities and ethics of geoengineering, the…

Energy

Though the pandemic has gripped the world's attention, lying just…

Climate

The IPCC embraced the notion of carbon offset schemes in…

Geophoto

The shortlist for the 2020 Wellcome Photography Prize has been…

Climate

Millions have been displaced due to severe floods in central…

Wildlife

A portable DNA assay could revolutionise the way border officials…

Climate

A handy gathering of facts about carbon emissions with graphs…

Oceans

Researchers have revealed just how many polluting microfibres are released…

Wildlife

Increasing reports of seized jaguar fangs and skin suggest that…

Geophoto

Forced isolation has given many of us the chance to…

Oceans

A fifth of the ocean floor has now been mapped,…