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Pictures of the Day: Thinning of the Northeast Greenland Ice Stream

Greenland is house to the planet’s largest ice sheet outdoors of Antarctica. Observations collected from the bottom, air, and area have revealed fast thinning within the northeast a part of this ice sheet that would contribute extra to sea degree rise than beforehand thought.

Full video: 2007–2100

Thinning of the Northeast Greenland Ice Stream. Full Video: 2007–2100. Greenland’s largest ice stream is predicted to contribute extra to sea degree rise than fashions beforehand indicated.

“Rivers” of comparatively fast-moving ice, generally known as ice streams, usually movement from Greenland’s inside towards its coasts. The Northeast Greenland Ice Stream is the island’s largest, draining ice from a basin that spans about 12 p.c of the ice sheet. A lot of that land-based ice ultimately flows via two principal outlet glaciers, the place it discharges icebergs and melts into the ocean.

Shfaqat Abbas Khan, a scientist on the Technical College of Denmark, and colleagues not too long ago discovered that the Northeast Greenland Ice Stream is rushing up and thinning, not solely at its margins but additionally far inland. A workforce of ice sheet modelers at Dartmouth Faculty then used these knowledge to revise their projections of the ice stream’s contribution to sea degree rise, which they are saying is predicted to be six instances bigger than fashions beforehand indicated by the tip of the century. The research was published within the journal Nature.

This animation simulates the cumulative thinning of the Greenland Ice Stream since 2007 and projected via 2100. It’s based mostly on a mannequin that offered the most effective match with observations of ice elevation collected from 2007 to 2021. The observations got here from NASA’s Operation IceBridge airborne mission, NASA’s Ice, Cloud, and land Elevation Satellite-2 (ICESat-2), and the European Area Company’s (ESA) CryoSat-2 satellite tv for pc.

Yellow areas are the place the simulation exhibits the best quantity of thinning, including up over time to greater than 200 meters in locations. Mannequin outcomes point out that by the tip of the century, areas the place ice is thinning by 2 to four meters per 12 months may have unfold as much as 250 kilometers inland.

“Our simulations counsel that the Northeast Greenland Ice Stream will contribute between 13.5 to 15.5 millimeters to sea degree rise by 2100,” Khan stated. “That is primarily due to inland thinning and speed-ups, which weren’t captured in earlier fashions. Thinning and speed-ups should not restricted to ice marginal areas however propagate deep into the inside.”

The mannequin additionally matched nicely with observations of the ice stream’s pace and acceleration. These observations had been made with ESA’s Sentinel-1 satellites and with a community of GPS stations put in on the ice stream in 2016 in collaboration with Eric Rignot of the College of California, Irvine, and NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory.

“GPS knowledge along with satellite tv for pc knowledge to detect inland movement accelerations could possibly be helpful to enhance our understanding of how the ice sheets are affected by local weather change and cut back the uncertainty in sea degree rise projections,” Khan added. “An identical strategy needs to be utilized to different massive glacier methods, akin to Pine Island or Thwaites glaciers in Antarctica which have proven in latest many years important adjustments in movement pace and thinning close to the margin and much into the inside of the continent.”

NASA Earth Observatory video by Joshua Stevens, utilizing knowledge courtesy of Khan, S.A., et al. (2022). Story by Kathryn Hansen.

Associated story: The Tectonic & Volcanic Events That Will Accompany The Melting Of The Ice Sheets — An Overview


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