Saturday, September 27, 2008

Greenland's Ilulissat Glacier Melting

While it's important to focus on all the domestic politics in America right now, the humbling truth is that none of this matters when compared to the crisis of global climate change. In the long term, this is the only real issue facing humanity in this century; everything else is a distant second.

Greenland's glaciers are melting at an alarming rate, and this is increasing. Please excuse the lengthy exerpt, but this is vitally important for you to read:

Off in the distance, huge boulders of ice break off of the imposing Ilulissat glacier, more commonly known by its Greenlandic name Sermeq Kujalleq, creating a thunderous roar as the glacier recedes in one of the planet's most striking examples of global warming.

"The ice in some places on the coast is now melting four times faster than before," says Abbas Khan, a Dane who studies the movements of Greenland's glaciers at the Danish Space Centre.

The Ilulissat glacier and icefjord have been on UNESCO's world heritage list since 2004 and is the most visited site in Greenland, its ice and pools of emerald-blue water admired by tourists and studied by scientists and politicians around the world.

The glacier is the most active in the northern hemisphere, producing 10 percent of Greenland's icebergs, or some 20 million tonnes of ice per day.

But the glacier is in bad shape, experts warn.

Recent estimates by US scientists who study NASA's satellite images daily show that it is rapidly disintegrating.

It has shrunk more than 15 kilometres (9.3 miles) in the past five years, and is now smaller than it has ever been in the 150 years of observation and topographical data.

According to professor Jason Box and his team from the department of geography at Ohio State University, the Ilulissat glacier may not have been this small in 6,000 years.

Radars, satellites and GPS tracking have shown that the glaciers in Greenland's southern and western parts are now melting twice as fast as they did two or three years ago, and four times as fast on the east of the island, according to professor Soeren Rysgaard of the Greenlandic Institute of Natural Resources.

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