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Old 12-19-2022, 03:26 PM
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Unhappy Greenland's glaciers are melting 100 times faster than estimated

Greenland's glaciers are melting 100 times faster than estimated
By: Stephanie Pappas - Live Science News 12-19-22

Note: Scientists are getting a better handle on how fast Greenland's ice is flowing out to sea. Old models that used Antarctica as a baseline were way off the mark.

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In this aerial view, icebergs and meltwater are seen in front of the retreating Russell Glacier on Sept. 8, 2021 near Kangerlussuaq, Greenland. (Image credit: Mario Tama/Getty Images)

Greenland's glaciers are melting 100 times faster than previously calculated, according to a new model that takes into account the unique interaction between ice and water at the island’s fjords.

The new mathematical representation of glacial melt factors in the latest observations of how ice gets eaten away from the stark vertical faces at the ends of glaciers in GGreenland. Previously, scientists used models developed in Antarctica, where glacial tongues float on top of seawater — a very different arrangement.

"For years, people took the melt rate model for Antarctic floating glaciers and applied it to Greenland's vertical glacier fronts," lead author Kirstin Schulz, a research associate in the Oden Institute for Computational Engineering and Sciences at University of Texas at Austin, said in a statement. "But there is more and more evidence that the traditional approach produces too low melt rates at Greenland's vertical glacier fronts."

The researchers published their findings in September in the journal Geophysical Research Letters.

Researchers already knew their Antarctica-based understanding of Arctic glaciers was not a perfect match. But it's hard to get close to the edges of Greenland's glaciers, because they're situated at the ends of fjords — long, narrow inlets of seawater flanked by high cliffs — where warm water undercuts the ice. This leads to dramatic calving events where chunks of ice the size of buildings crumble into the water with little warning, creating mini-tsunamis, according to the researchers.

Researchers led by physical oceanographer Rebecca Jackson of Rutgers University have been using robotic boats to get close to these dangerous ice cliffs and take measurements. They've done this at Alaska's LeConte Glacier as well as Greenland's Kangerlussuup Sermia. (An upcoming mission led by scientists at the University of Texas at Austin will send robotic subs to the faces of three west Greenland glaciers.) Jackon's measurements suggest that the Antarctica-based models massively underestimate Arctic glacial melt. LeConte, for example, is disappearing 100 times faster than models predicted.

The mixture of cold fresh water from the glaciers and warmer seawater drives ocean circulation near the glaciers and farther out in the ocean, meaning the melt has far-reaching implications. The Greenland ice sheet is also important for sea-level rise; Greenland ice holds enough water to raise sea levels by 20 feet (6 meters).

The new model uses the latest data from near-glacial missions along with a more realistic understanding of how the steep, cliff-like faces of the glaciers impact ice loss. The results are consistent with Jackson's findings, showing 100 times more melt than the old models predicted.

"Ocean climate model results are highly relevant for humankind to predict trends associated with climate change, so you really want to get them right," Schulz said. "This was a very important step for making climate models better."

About this writer: Stephanie Pappas is a contributing writer for Live Science, covering topics ranging from geoscience to archaeology to the human brain and behavior. She was previously a senior writer for Live Science but is now a freelancer based in Denver, Colorado, and regularly contributes to Scientific American and The Monitor, the monthly magazine of the American Psychological Association. Stephanie received a bachelor's degree in psychology from the University of South Carolina and a graduate certificate in science communication from the University of California, Santa Cruz.
Personal note: We can't say we haven't heard this before - but of late it
seems - we are once more again altering the planets atmosphere enough
to impact the North and South Pole Icecaps.

This will alter all our weather and our seasons to a point where it will be
either too hot or maybe too cold - depending on the axis of earth and
the degree of melting. Flooding will be a big factor and without our
North & South poles it will get hotter and hotter and maybe kill off
plant life and/or many animals and plenty more rainy days all around
the globe.
Air Conditioning cost will rise just to keep cool at the very best it can.
Many land animals will no dobut die off - and much of the plants
may also find it too hot to grow anything - or not enough rain -
or too much and wash away crops. That's a future I won't see -
but many of you young ones will. This will be their topic of
conversations during those hot days.

O Almighty Lord God, who neither slumberest nor sleepest; Protect and assist, we beseech thee, all those who at home or abroad, by land, by sea, or in the air, are serving this country, that they, being armed with thy defence, may be preserved evermore in all perils; and being filled with wisdom and girded with strength, may do their duty to thy honour and glory; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

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