By Climate Central
Saturday, March 22, 2014
Stability in the rapidly changing Arctic is a rarity. Yet for years researchers believed the glaciers in the frigid northeast section of Greenland, which connect to the interior of the country’s massive ice sheet, were resilient to the effects of climate change that have affected so much of the Arctic.
But new data published Sunday in Nature Climate Change reveals that over the past decade, the region has started rapidly losing ice due to a rise in air and ocean temperatures caused in part by climate change. The increased melt raises grave concerns that sea level rise could accelerate even faster than projected, threatening even more coastal communities worldwide.
“North Greenland is very cold and dry, and believed to be a very stable area,” said Shfaqat Khan, a senior researcher at the Technical University of Denmark who led the new study. “It is surprisingly to see ice loss in one of the coldest regions on the planet.”
The stability of the region is particularly important because it has much deeper ties to the interior ice sheet than other glaciers on the island. If the entire ice sheet were to melt — which would take thousands of years in most climate change scenarios — sea levels would rise up to 23 feet, catastrophically altering coastlines around the world.
Sea levels have risen 8 inches globally since the start of the 1900s, and current projections show that figure could rise another 3 feet by the end of this century.