Dramatic Ice Loss May Get the Headlines, But 72% of Greenland's Ice Melt Comes From Small Glaciers

greenland ice photo

photo: kaet44

Recently there's been a whole bucket full of Arctic climate change bad news, including the news that 83 square miles of Ellesmere Island's ice shelf has been lost this summer alone due to warming temperatures.

While this sort of ice loss is dramatic (entire sections of the ice sheet have become detached) researchers at Ohio State University who have been studying ice melt over in Greenland say that while the losses on a few large glaciers have caught people's attention, the majority of ice melt there really comes from dozens of smaller sources. Their research was recently published in Geophysical Research Letters and comes to the following conclusions:30 Glaciers Account for Three-Quarters of Ice Melt
After studying a portion of southeastern Greenland nearly 660,000 square miles in size, researchers from Ohio State's Byrd Polar Research Center found that while the two of the largest glaciers in the region (Kangerdlugssuaq and Helheim) account for more ice loss than any single glacier, the 30 of so smaller glaciers in the area contributed 72% of the total ice lost. (Science Codex)

Entire Coastline Melting and Pulling Ice Sheet With It
Ohio State assistant professor of earth sciences Ian Howet said of the discovery:

We were able to see for the first time that there is widespread thinning at the margin of the Greenland ice sheet throughout the region. We're talking about the region that is within 62 miles of from the ice edge. That whole area is thinning rapidly. [...] The entire strip of ice over the southeast margin, all of these glaciers, accelerated [melting] and they are just pulling the entire ice sheet with it.

via :: Science Codex
Arctic Climate Change
Greenland Ice Melting at Record Rate
"Massive and Disturbing" Ice Shelf Changes on Ellesmere Island: 83 Square Miles Lost This Summer
Study Predicts Amount of CO2 Emissions That Could Lead to Greenland Melting

Related Content on Treehugger.com