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Greenland's Melting Ice Sheet

Via Boing Boing, a Los Angeles Times story on how, as also noted in the film An Inconvenient Truth (which, by the way, I highly recommend), the ice sheet covering Greenland is detiorating more quickly than in the past. Were it to melt entirely, the world's oceans would rise by 21 feet.

The Greenland ice sheet -- two miles thick and broad enough to blanket an area the size of Mexico -- shapes the world's weather...

Should all of the ice sheet ever thaw, the meltwater could raise sea level 21 feet and swamp the world's coastal cities, home to a billion people. It would cause higher tides, generate more powerful storm surges and, by altering ocean currents, drastically disrupt the global climate.

Climate experts have started to worry that the ice cap is disappearing in ways that computer models had not predicted.

By all accounts, the glaciers of Greenland are melting twice as fast as they were five years ago, even as the ice sheets of Antarctica -- the world's largest reservoir of fresh water -- also are shrinking.

This graphic included with the article, showing the extent of Greenland's seasonal "melt zone", is sobering:

Solid to Liquid
The changes seen in the graphic have taken place in a single decade.

For more on what a 21-foot sea level rise would mean, see here, here, and here.


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