The Hot Zone

Rebound

Posted by Alison Hawkes on May 25, 2010
Category : The Oceans

Greenland’s coastal areas, rebounding like a sponge as the ice melts away, is rising upward about an inch a year.

Geophysicists at the University of Miami found that if the trend continues, the acceleration could be as much as two inches per year by 2025.

Sea Ice off Greenland's Coast

Sea Ice off Greenland's Coast

“It’s been known for several years that climate change is contributing to the melting of Greenland’s ice sheet,” said Tim Dixon, a co-author of a study published in the latest Nature Geoscience.

“What’s surprising, and a bit worrisome, is that the ice is melting so fast that we can actually see the land uplift in response,” he said. “Even more surprising, the rise seems to be accelerating, implying that melting is accelerating.”

Apparently, the same uplift of rocky surfaces is happening on the islands of Iceland and Svalbard. The research fits expectations of what happens when the pressure caused by heavy ice eases.

The researchers used GPS receivers stationed on Greenland’s rocky shores to come up with measurements of the position, vertical velocity, and acceleration for each site from 1995 onward.The rebound seems to have started in the 1990s and is a signal that Greenland could become the largest contributor to global sea level rise, according to the researchers.

They now want to go back to other GPS stations in areas where ice loss is believed to be the highest.

-Alison Hawkes

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