Greenland's Glacial Meltdown

Greenland is, by area, the world's largest island that is not a continent. It is the least densely populated dependency or country in the world. It has been inhabited, though not continuously, by indigenous peoples since 2500 BC. There were Norse colonies in Greenland from AD 986 until sometime most likely in the 15th century. In the early 18th century contact between Scandinavia and Greenland was re-established and Denmark established rule over Greenland. The majority of Greenland, is less than 1,500 metres (4,921 ft) in elevation.

The weight of the massive Greenland ice sheet has depressed the central land area to form a basin lying more than 300 m (984 ft) below sea level The ice flows generally to the coast from the center of the island. All towns and settlements of Greenland are situated along the ice-free coast, with the population being concentrated along the west coast.

If the Greenland ice sheet were to melt away completely, the world's sea level would rise by more than 7 m (23 feet). Today the glaciers of Greenland are contributing to a rise in the global sea level at a faster rate than was previously believed.

History Early Paleo-Eskimo cultures, Norse Settlement, More


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In the News ...

2.7 Million-Year-Old Soil Found Deep Beneath Greenland's Ice   NBC - April 20, 2014
Buried thousands of feet under Summit, the highest point on Greenland's ice sheet, is a soil born before humans walked the earth. The 2.7-million-year-old silt is a remnant of the verdant tundra that covered Greenland before it was entombed in ice, researchers report. Pollen and plant DNA buried in the seafloor offshore of Greenland also suggest the island once had tundra and patchy forest, similar to today's high Arctic. The new findings hint that at Summit, the tundra landscape was open to the sky for 200,000 years to 1 million years before ice covered it. [In Photos: See Greenland's Ancient Landscape]

Satellites reveal sudden Greenland ice melt   BBC - July 25, 2012
The surface of Greenland's massive ice sheet has melted this month over an unusually large area, Nasa has said. Scientists said the "unprecedented" melting took place over a larger area than has been detected in three decades of satellite observation.

Massive ice island drifts toward Canada   MSNBC - July 23, 2011
Manhattan-sized chunk spotted off Labrador; could interfere with shipping. A Manhattan-sized chunk of ice that broke off a glacier in Greenland nearly a year ago is drifting toward the coast of Newfoundland, Canada - providing a stunning sight to scientists and curiosity-seekers but also posing a potential threat to ships. The ice island is 20 square miles - roughly 6.2 miles long and 3.1 miles wide. It was formed when a 97-square-mile chunk of ice broke off Greenland's Petermann Glacier on Aug. 5, 2010, possibly due to warming of the Atlantic Ocean.

Greenland glaciers spring surprise   BBC - January 26, 2011
Some Greenland glaciers run slower in warm summers than cooler ones, meaning the icecap may be more resistant to warming than previously thought. The scientists emphasize the icecap is not "safe from climate change", as it is still losing ice to the sea. Melting of the icecap would add several metres to sea level around the world.

Huge ice sheet breaks from Greenland glacier   BBC - August 6, 2010

It is the largest Arctic iceberg to calve since 1962.

Ice Island Breaks off Greenland; Bigger Than Manhattan   National Geographic - August 6, 2010

New Petermann glacier collapse may be biggest in recorded history.