Saturday, October 22, 2016

Melting Away: Greenland's Ice Melt Seven Percent Faster Than Predicted

A new study has revealed that ice in Greenland is melting seven-percent faster than was earlier predicted by scientists, due to the long-lasting effect of a hotspot in the Earth’s mantle under the landmass.

According to a study recently published in the journal Science Advances, the Greenland ice sheet annually loses about 200-billion metric tons of ice more than was previously estimated. Instead of losing an average of 2500-billion metric tons of ice from 2003 to 2013, Greenland has lost nearly 2,700-billion metric tons.

"If you look at the last 15 years since we've been having these measurements, it's clearly getting worse, the ice loss," said Michael Bevis of the Ohio University, a co-author of the study. "It is pretty scary," Bevis added.

However, Bevis claims that changes in the estimates of the total mass loss over Greenland are not as dramatic as they seem at first glance. Much more important, according to the scientist, is the reason behind the discrepancy.

Most calculations of ice sheet loss in Greenland are made by measuring the shrinking mass of the island via satellite. As ice dissolves, the island loses mass, a process that makes scientific sense. But as the heavy ice sheets melt, ground rises, both instantly and slowly, over centuries.

The satellites can only detect change in mass, without inferring the ice mass change from the total mass change. Some 40 million years ago Greenland passed over an extra-hot column of partially-molten rock that now lies beneath Iceland, activating volcanoes. The hotspot softened up rock and lowered the viscosity of the mantle below Greenland's east coast.

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