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Thinning Greenland Icecap
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Scientists who want to monitor the state of our global climate may have
to look no farther than the coastal ice that surrounds the Earths
A NASA study of Greenlands ice sheet reveals that it is rapidly
thinning. In an article published in the July 21 issue of Science, Bill
Krabill, project scientist at the NASA Goddard Space Flight Centers
Wallops Flight Facility, Wallops Island, VA, reports that the frozen
area around Greenland is thinning, in some places, at a rate of more
than three feet per year. Any change is important since a smaller ice
sheet could result in higher sea levels.
A conservative estimate, based on our data, indicates a net loss of
approximately 51 cubic kilometers of ice per year from the entire ice
sheet, sufficient to raise global sea level by 0.005 inches per year, or
approximately seven percent of the observed rise, Krabill said.
This amount of sea level rise does not threaten coastal regions, but
these results provide evidence that the margins of the ice sheet are in
a process of change, Krabill said. The thinning cannot be accounted
for by increased melting alone. It appears that ice must be flowing more
quickly into the sea through glaciers.
For further information on the Greenland mapping project,
including the technology behind the science, visit the Airborne
Topographic Mapper site.