Greenland's glaciers not speeding up as much as previously thought
Sea-level raise may be attributable to other things
Previous studies estimated that the Greenland's glaciers would double
their flow by 2010 and continue to maintain that speed, researchers. The
glaciers could eventually flow faster than earlier studies estimated,
researchers noted in the latest issue of Science magazine. The ice
rivers may be contributing "significantly less" to sea-level rise than
had been thought.
Glaciers remain the chief transportation mechanism that moves this material from the interior of land masses such as Greenland and Antarctica to the oceans.
This is less than earlier projections, one of which estimated that glacial flow would increase by 100 percent between 2000 and 2010 before stabilizing at that new velocity.
It's generally accepted that the volume of ice and melt water from land being deposited in the sea has a direct impact on global sea level.
Glaciers remain the chief transportation mechanism that moves this material from the interior of land masses such as Greenland and Antarctica to the oceans. The faster ice-river flow ends in an increase in the volume of ice and melts water ending up in seawater.
To produce the findings of the glaciers' velocity rates, the researchers used data collected by Canadian, German and Japanese satellites.
"There is the caveat that this 10-year time series is too short to really understand long-term behavior," said co-author Ian Howat from Ohio State University.
"There still may be future events - tipping points - that could cause large increases in glacier speeds to continue.
"Perhaps some of the big glaciers in the north of Greenland that have not yet exhibited any changes may begin to speed up, which would greatly increase the rate of sea-level rise," Prof Howat suggested.
In contrast to earlier research that glacier flow would increase before maintaining a fixed velocity, the scientists said they found no indication that the glaciers would stop gaining speed during the rest of this century.
In summation, the glaciers could make a greater contribution to global sea-level rise than the earlier studies had projected.
Glaciologist Jeff Kargel said the team had "done much to extend [the] knowledge of Greenland glacier flow speed oscillations and trends."
Kargel, who was not involved in the study, added that the 10 years' worth of data was not a significant length of time in which to base the conclusions.
"So short, in fact, it verges towards being the glaciological equivalent of weather," he said.
"All said, I think this is valuable analysis, and it probably does mean that Greenland is undergoing a gentler acceleration of mass loss than hitherto considered likely."
© 2012, Distributed by NEWS CONSORTIUM.
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Pope Benedict XVI's Prayer Intentions for January 2013
General Intention: The Faith of Christians. That in this Year of Faith Christians may deepen their knowledge of the mystery of Christ and witness joyfully to the gift of faith in him.
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Keywords: Greenland, glacial studies, sea level rise, study
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