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7.26.2005

Greenland glacier melting

Melting Greenland glacier may hasten rise in sea level

Scientists monitoring a glacier in Greenland have found it is moving into the sea three times faster than a decade ago.

Satellite measurements of the Kangerdlugssuaq glacier show that, as well as moving more rapidly, the glacier's boundary is shrinking dramatically - probably because of melting brought about by climate change.

The Kangerdlugssuaq glacier on Greenland's east coast is one of several that drains the huge Greenland ice sheet. The glacier's movements are considered critical in understanding the rate at which the ice sheet is melting.

Kangerdlugssuaq is about 1,000 metres (3,280ft) thick, about 4.5 miles wide, extends for more than 20 miles into the ice sheet and drains about 4 per cent of the ice from the Greenland ice sheet.

Experts believe any change in the rate at which the glacier transports ice from the ice sheet into the ocean has important implications for increases in sea levels around the world.

If the entire Greenland ice sheet were to melt into the ocean it would raise sea levels by up to seven metres (23ft), inundating vast areas of low-lying land, including London and much of eastern England.


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