Greenland is considered by many to be one of the major keys to climate change. Changes in Greenland, like much of the Arctic, are an indication of the extent of climate change year to year. Greenland is also a major contributor to global sea rises and would contribute at least twenty-three feet to overall levels if the island were to melt entirely.
Recently scientists have indicated that there are not nearly enough scientists to go around in order to track all the aspects of climate data needed in Greenland. But data does continue to be attained, data which points to increasing pressures on Greenland due to climate change. These pressures have increased significantly in the past decade, an aspect which considerably concerns those tracking the impacts.
According to researchers, both 2010 and 2011 have seen massive melting from Greenland’s glaciers. Researchers in 2010 found the melt was a record and in 2011 the record was set once more. While the researchers have yet to publish their findings, although it is planned, their findings were recently made available.
The researchers findings revolved around measurements on the Mittivakkat glacier, although other glaciers in Greenland, both large and small, have similar findings. Mass loss data collecting techniques involve measuring the amount of ice which has melted using a stake which is placed in the ground prior to melt. This is essentially a technique opposite of that to measure how much snow has fallen.
The final measurements by researchers are made in August. In 2010, the amount of ice level lost was about seven feet. In 2010 this was approximately two percent of the entire glacier volume, at the time the loss was a record. However, the recent measurements by researchers have indicated that there was a loss of approximately eight feet, which is considerably more when the entire glacier is taken into consideration.
One of the researchers, Edward Hanna, stated: “Our fieldwork results are a key indication of the rapid changes now being seen in and around Greenland, which are evident not just on this glacier but also on many surrounding small glaciers. It’s clear that this is now a very dynamic environment in terms of its response and mass wastage to ongoing climate change.”
Hanna also noted a few of the potential impacts of the increased melting: “The retreat of these small glaciers also makes the nearby Greenland Ice Sheet more vulnerable to further summer warming. There could also be an effect on North Atlantic Ocean circulation and weather patterns through melting so much extra ice.” In addition, changes in gravity have been noted surrounding melting glaciers.