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Greenland’s northeastern ice sheet starting to melt

Eilís Quinn, Eye on the Arctic

Greenland’s previously stable northeastern ice sheet is starting to melt, according to a new study published in the journal Nature Climate Change.

While Greenland’s melting ice sheet has contributed to an increase in the world’s sea levels over the last 20 years, the recent study suggests that Greenland’s northeast ice stream, located 370 miles to the interior of the ice sheet, is also thinning because of warming temperatures.

Greenland is believed to contribute 0.5 millimeters per year to the 3.2 millimeters annual rise of the world’s sea levels.

Long-term implications

The study used data from several dozen GPS  locations along Greenland’s coast.

“The Greenland ice sheet has contributed more than any other ice mass to sea level rise over the last two decades and has the potential, if it were completely melted to raise global sea level by more than seven meters (22.75 feet),”  Jonathan Bamber, a professor at Britain’s University of Bristol and one of the study’s co-authors, told Agence France-Presse this week.

“About half of the increased contribution of the ice sheet is due to the speedup of glaciers in the south and northwest. Until recently, northeast Greenland has been relatively stable. This new study shows that it is no longer the case," Bamber said.

This story is posted on Alaska Dispatch as part of Eye on the Arctic, a collaborative partnership between public and private circumpolar media organizations.