Greenland Ice Sheet - New Study

Thu, 29/10/2015

Whether or not an increase in meltwater, in response to climate warming, will accelerate the movement of ice sheets has been contentious. This is because while water lubricates the ice-bedrock interface, helping to speed up the ice flow over short time-scales (days to weeks), it also stimulates the development of efficient drainage.

Using three decades of satellite images for a 170-km land-terminating stretch of the western Greenland Ice Sheet, Andrew Tedstone et al. report in the journal Nature that more meltwater does not equate to faster ice sheet motion. Rather, despite a 50% increase in surface melting, ice motion decreased in their 8000km2 study region by about 12%.

A river flows in the western region of the Greenland Ice Sheet
A river flows in the western region of the Greenland Ice Sheet, (c) A. Sole