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About to Submerge? Researchers Say Greenland’s Retreating Glaciers Are Altering Island’s Coastline

© AP Photo / David GoldmanIn this Thursday, Aug. 3, 2017 file photo, a glacier calves icebergs into a fjord off the Greenland ice sheet in southeastern Greenland.
In this Thursday, Aug. 3, 2017 file photo, a glacier calves icebergs into a fjord off the Greenland ice sheet in southeastern Greenland. - Sputnik International
Scientists note that the current global trend of glaciers shrinking rather than growing poses a real threat to Greenland’s coastline and thus to the balance of its entire ecosystem.

A recent study by the National Snow and Ice Data Center has found that Greenland’s glaciers are retreating across-the-board on the island nation, while also experiencing other physical changes.

An in-depth analysis of 225 of Greenland’s ocean-terminating glaciers, which flow from the ice sheet directly into the ocean, shows that none have measurably advanced for the past ten years, and most have drastically diminished.

Around 80 percent of Greenland is blanketed by an enormous sheet of ice, known as a continental glacier, that in some locations reaches the thickness of up to 3 kilometers (2 miles).

In this 16 August 2019 file photo, icebergs float away as the sun rises near Kulusuk, Greenland - Sputnik International
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As the glaciers move toward the sea, they are usually replenished by fresh snowfall in the interior of the ice sheet that further turns into ice. This study, as well as previous research shows that the fragile balance between glacial melting and ice replenishment is fluctuating broadly, as are the rates of iceberg calving.

Due to rising air and ocean temperatures, the ice sheet is speedily losing mass and, as a result, huge amounts of melt water are flowing directly into the sea, altering the ecosystem.

“The coastal environment in Greenland is undergoing a major transformation,” said Alex Gardner, a snow and ice scientist at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory and co-author of the study, further outlining the perspective changes in the region's landscape.

“We are already seeing new sections of the ocean and fjords opening up as the ice sheet retreats, and now we have evidence of changes to these freshwater flows. So losing ice is not just about changing sea level, it’s also about reshaping Greenland’s coastline and altering the coastal ecology”.

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