Nearly all of Greenland’s glaciers are retreating •

Nearly all of Greenland’s glaciers are retreating

Nearly all of Greenland’s glaciers are retreating. Today’s Image of the Day from NASA Earth Observatory features Greenland, the world’s largest island, located between the Arctic and Atlantic Ocean. 

In a recent study led by Twila Moon of the National Snow and Ice Data Center, researchers analyzed physical changes to 225 of Greenland’s ocean-terminating glaciers, which flow from the ice sheet interior to the ocean. The experts found that none of the glaciers has substantially advanced for the last 20 years, and 200 of them have retreated.

“The speed of ice loss in Greenland is stunning,” said Moon. “As the ice sheet edge responds to rapid ice loss, the character and behavior of the system as a whole are changing, with the potential to influence ecosystems and people who depend on them.”

The study showed that glaciers are retreating in nearly every part of the island, and are experiencing other physical changes at the same time. Some of those transitions have rerouted the freshwater rivers beneath the ice.

“The coastal environment in Greenland is undergoing a major transformation,” said Alex Gardner, a snow and ice scientist at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory and co-author of the study. 

“We are already seeing new sections of the ocean and fjords opening up as the ice sheet retreats, and now we have evidence of changes to these freshwater flows. So losing ice is not just about changing sea level, it’s also about reshaping Greenland’s coastline and altering the coastal ecology.”

Image Credit: NASA Earth Observatory 

By Chrissy Sexton, Staff Writer

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