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Greenland rising ‘an inch a year’ as ice melts

By Paul Wallis     May 19, 2010 in Science
Greenland is rising. The big melt is taking a lot of weight off the crust, resulting in the coastal land surface movement as millions of tons of ice dissolves. What’s bothering scientists is they can literally see it happening.
To give some idea of what this means, most of Greenland is still covered with ice. The glaciers are 2km thick in some places, and the centre of the land mass is one huge ice ball. This is a purely mass-based equation. An inch of land mass refers to an very large tonnage of rock and soil. The surprise doesn’t end there, either. Apparently the rate of rising could increase to double its present rate by 2025.
Greenland has been changing, noticeably. Some of Greenland is now actively green, with a climate like Canada, all year round. This has been common knowledge for a while, but the rising land mass is new. It’s known that the Ice Age retreat had much the same effect.
The study by Tim Dixon, professor of geophysics at the University of Miami Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Science and principal investigator of the study was supported by NASA and the National Science Foundation. Prof. Dixon describes the findings as “worrisome” because of the apparent acceleration of the melt.
GPS measurements dating back to 1995 were used to measure the land rise, and that’s where the “inch per year” figure was obtained. Greenland’s melt rate has been closely watched, because of its ability to affect sea levels. The new data has added a dimension to calculations, because the land mass rise, obviously, means reducing pressure from the ice, which can be directly measured based on the elevation changes.
The science here is rock solid. There’s no mention or indication of coincidental geophysical processes, which would affect more than the coastal zones. The coastal land mass is also the area most immediately affected by the melt. That means the coastal land rising is a pretty reliable indicator to work with, because of the direct relationship to the melt rate.
Several billion tons of ancient rock is on the move. Enough to give anyone pause for thought.
More about Greenland, Coastal land rising, University miami
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