Study Shows Greenland’s Undercut Glaciers Melting Faster than Thought

New Research Shows Greenland’s Undercut Glaciers Melting Faster than Thought

Glaciologists from the University of California, Irvine, and JPL mapped remote Greenland fjords by ship in 2014. Credits: UCI/Maria Stenzel

In a newly published study, a team of researchers reveal that Greenland’s glaciers are likely melting faster than previously thought.

Greenland’s glaciers flowing into the ocean are grounded deeper below sea level than previously measured, allowing intruding ocean water to badly undercut the glacier faces. That process will raise sea levels around the world much faster than currently estimated, according to a team of researchers led by Eric Rignot of the University of California, Irvine (UCI), and NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, California.

The researchers battled rough waters and an onslaught of icebergs for three summers to map the remote channels below Greenland’s marine-terminating glaciers for the first time. Their results have been published in the journal Geophysical Research Letters.

“Measurements are challenging to obtain beneath hundreds of meters of seawater in poorly charted, ice-infested fjords,” Rignot wrote. He and co-authors Ian Fenty of JPL, Cilan Cai and Yun Xu of UCI, and Chris Kemp of Terrasond Ltd., Seattle, obtained and analyzed around-the-clock measurements of the depth, salinity and temperature of channel waters and their intersection with the coastal edge of Greenland’s ice sheet.

The team found some glaciers perched on giant earthen sills, protecting them from the punishing salt waters for now, while others were being severely eroded out of sight beneath the surface, meaning they could collapse and melt much sooner. “Numerical ice sheet models do not take into account these interactions and as a result underestimate how fast the glaciers will respond to climate warming,” said Rignot.

An expedition to Greenland with UC Irvine glaciologists Eric Rignot and Isabella Velicogna reveals ‘time bomb’ effects of global warming.

More information and photos on the August 2014 expedition:

Publication: Eric Rignot, et al., “Undercutting of marine-terminating glaciers in West Greenland,” Geophysical Research Letters, 2015; DOI: 10.1002/2015GL064236

Source: Alan Buis, Jet Propulsion Laboratory,

8 Comments on "Study Shows Greenland’s Undercut Glaciers Melting Faster than Thought"

    • When are you going to quote a legitimate science website instead of those run by fossil fuel funded propaganda spreaders?

  1. it is summer time, the ice melts in this part of the hemisphere at this time year every year………

    • They won’t say that because it doesn’t fit with the climate change narrative.
      they wouldn’t allow me to post an article By Dr. Ivar Giaever, a Nobel Prize-Winner for physics in 1973, declared his dissent on man-made global warming claims at a Nobel forum on July 1, 2015. If they allow this response you can google the article

  2. Why don’t you report about the ice increase in the south pole?

  3. Total carbon exchange from the water and land to the atmosphere in the world according to the IPCC AR5 Fig 6.1 is 207.1 Billion tonnes (GT). Human component 8.9 GT direct and is estimated at 2 GT re-emission from the sinks. Total carbon absorbed by the water and land 203.3 GT. The point at which as much human carbon is leaving the atmosphere in the 203.3 as is being added to the atmosphere (8.9+2 GT) is when the concentration reaches 21.6 ppm this is vastly lower than the IPCC predicts is in the atmosphere at equilibrium i.e. the human carbon content neither increases or decreases because the same amount leaves as is added.
    The simple calculation to justify this number is as follows.
    Human carbon=10.9 GT; total carbon leaving the atmosphere = 203.3 GT ; fraction of human carbon at equilibrium = 10.9/203.3 = 0.054 If the atmospheric concentration is 400 ppm the fraction of human carbon in the atmosphere = 21.64 ppm. IPCC fraction 240/829 = 0.29 which yields 115.8 ppm quite a difference and totally false.
    Please note ALL the above data comes from the IPCC AR5.

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