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Greenland Glaciers Melting At Shocking Speed

September 3, 2009

Greenland’s glaciers are dumping ice into the Atlantic Ocean at an alarming rate, according to a statement by the environmental group Greenpeace on Wednesday.

Increasingly warm temperatures have caused glaciers to melt over time and shed masses of ice that eventually slip into fjords and the sea.

Greenland’s Helheim glacier, which is four miles wide and almost one mile thick, moves approximately 25 yards a day, Greenpeace said in a statement.

The group said that is double the speed as when its Arctic Sunrise vessel last took a trip to Greenland in 2005.

Another major glacier in Greenland, Kangerdlugssuaq, is moving even faster. It has been observed moving around 38 yards every day or about 8.5 miles each year, Greenpeace said.

“Kangerdlugssuaq Glacier is probably the world’s fastest moving glacier,” said Dr. Gordon Hamilton, from the University of Maine’s Climate Change Institute.

Hamilton is taking part in this year’s Greenpeace excursion, which is now examining the glaciers north and east of the Danish territory.

The Greenpeace Arctic Sunrise vessel set out for the Danish region at the end of June and plans to conclude its mission by the end of September.

Ten percent of Greenland’s ice output into the North Atlantic comes from those two glaciers, and the melting of the glaciers causes the sea levels to rise noticeably.

As of now, scientists have observed sea levels rising around an eighth of an inch every year, according to Greenpeace. Though this number may sound negligible, it presents a very real problem to people living on islands or in coastal areas.

Most people are basically in agreement that the complete disappearance of these ultra thick Ice Sheets in Greenland would result in an estimated 23-foot rise in global sea levels.

That great of an increase would overwhelm coastal regions across the globe. However, it would take centuries of warmer weather for Greenland’s ice to totally disappear, even under the worst-case scenario.

The fate of the world’s ice sheets remains one of the biggest concerns in the field of climate prediction.

Image Caption: Antarctica. Image credit: Ben Holt, Sr.

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