Greenland Ice Caps Melting at Staggering Pace
Posted on Jun 25, 2006
According to the L.A. Times: “The massive glaciers are deteriorating twice as fast as they were five years ago. If the ice thaws entirely, sea level would rise 21 feet.” Some experts think the melting is occurring in ways that computer models had not predicted.
JAKOBSHAVN GLACIER, Greenland ? Gripping a bottle of Jack Daniel’s between his knees, Jay Zwally savored the warmth inside the tiny plane as it flew low across Greenland’s biggest and fastest-moving outlet glacier.
Mile upon mile of the steep fjord was choked with icy rubble from the glacier’s disintegrated leading edge. More than six miles of the Jakobshavn had simply crumbled into open water.
“My God!” Zwally shouted over the hornet whine of the engines.
From satellite sensors and seasons in the field, Zwally, 67, knew the ice sheet below in a way that few could match. Even after a lifetime of study, the raffish NASA glaciologist with a silver dolphin in one pierced ear was dismayed by how quickly the breakup had occurred.
Greenland is losing 52 cubic miles of ice each year, more than anyone had expected. The amount of freshwater ice dumped into the Atlantic Ocean has almost tripled in a decade.