Glaciers are melting 100 times faster at the bottom end

Glaciers are melting 100 times faster at the bottom end of it than the surface of Glaciers in West Greenland. The results of researches suggest this undersea melting caused by warmer ocean waters is playing an important, if not dominant, role in the current evolution of Greenland’s glaciers, a factor that had previously been overlooked. The researchers found the melt rates of the glaciers is 100 times larger under the ocean at their terminus points than that observed at the glacial surfaces. Scientists have observed an accelerating thinning of Greenland’s glaciers in the recent years, due to the warming sea water. They have observed a widespread acceleration of Greenland’s glaciers, associated with thinning of their lower reaches as they reach the sea.

At the same times due to the increasing temperature of the atmosphere melting of glaciers around Greenland has increased in both magnitude and area. Even though the melting rate has increased, snow fall has increased just slightly compared to the melting rate. The result is a tripling in the amount of ice mass lost in Greenland between 1996 and 2007. Of this loss, between 50 and 60 percent is attributable to a speedup in the flow of outlet glaciers, with the remainder due to increased surface melting. But the glaciers also melt along their submerged faces, where they come into contact with warm ocean waters.

The melting of glaciers beneath the ocean surface causes deep, warm, salty water to be drawn up toward the glacier’s face, where it mixes turbulently with the glacier’s cold, fresh water. The water then rises along the glacier face, melting its ice along the way, then reaches the ocean surface and flows away from the glacier in a plume. An ocean temperature of 3 degrees Celsius (37.4 degrees Fahrenheit) can melt glacial ice at a rate of several meters per day, or hundreds of meters over the course of a summer.

According to a new study by NASA and Chile’s Centro de Estudios Cientificos, Patagonia Ice fields of Chile and Argentina, the largest non-Antarctic ice masses in the Southern Hemisphere, are also thinning at an accelerating pace and now account for nearly 10 percent of global sea-level change from mountain glaciers. According to the results of the study, conclude the Patagonia Ice fields lost ice at a rate equivalent to a sea level rise of 0.04 millimeters (0.0016 inches) per year, during the period 1975 through 2000. This is equal to nine percent of the total annual global sea-level rise from mountain glaciers, according to the 2001 Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change Scientific Assessment. From 1995 through 2000, however, the rate of ice loss from the icefields more than doubled, to an equivalent sea level rise of 0.1 millimeters (0.004 inches) per year.

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