The Greenpeace ship MY Arctic Sunrise is pictured surrounded by ice debris from the collapsed glacier seen in the background.Greenpeace is currently in the Kangerdlussuaq Fjord in Greenland which until a few years ago was filled with a massive glacier. The glacier retreated 5 km in the last few years due to global warming. Greenpeace with scientists are documenting evidence of climate change in Greenland during the summer 2005.
The Greenpeacevessel Arctic Sunrise is in Greenland this summer,
documenting thesigns and impacts of climate change in this part of
the Arctic. Thescientists from the Climate Change Institute at the
University ofMaine, USA, are conducting an independently-funded
study into glaciervariations as evidence of recent climate
Preliminary findings indicate Kangerdlugssuaq Glacier on
Greenland'seast coast could be one of the fastest moving glaciers
in the worldwith a speed of almost 14 kilometres per year. The
measurements weremade this week using high precision GPS survey
methods. The resultswere compared with measurements made with
satellite imagery thatrevealed the glacier's speed was five
kilometres per year in1988. In addition, Kangerdlugssuaq Glacier
unexpectedly recededapproximately five kilometres since 2001 after
maintaining a stableposition for the past 40 years.
Outlet glaciers like Kangerdlugssuaq transport ice from the
heart ofthe Greenland Ice Sheet to the ocean and discharge icebergs
whichcontribute to sea level rise. Kangerdlugssuaq Glacier alone
transportsor "drains" four percent of the ice from the Greenland
Ice Sheet, andso any changes in the speed of these glaciers holds
tremendoussignificance in terms of sea level rise.
"This is a dramatic discovery," said Dr. Gordon Hamilton, who
undertookthe measurements on Kangerdlugssuaq Glacier on Greenland's
east coastwith University of Maine PhD student Leigh Stearns.
"There isconcern that the acceleration of this and similar glaciers
and theassociated discharge of ice is not described in current ice
sheetmodels of the effects of climate change.
These new results suggest that the loss of ice from the
Greenland IceSheet, unless balanced by an equivalent increase in
snowfall, could belarger and faster than previously estimated,"
said Dr. Hamilton.
"As the warming trend migrates north, glaciers at higher
latitudes inGreenland might also respond in the same way as
KangerdlugssuaqGlacier. In turn, this could have serious
implications for therate of sea level rise," said Dr. Hamilton.
The Greenland Ice Sheet could melt down if regional warming
exceedsabout three degrees Celsius. If this were to occur, sea
level wouldrise approximately seven meters over a few thousand
years. However,half a meter to one meter rise in sea level in the
next century wouldhave significant impacts on society. More than 70
percent of theworld's population lives on coastal plains, and 11 of
the world's 15largest cities are on the coast or estuaries.
"Greenland's shrinking glaciers are sending an urgent warning to
theworld that action is needed now to stop climate change," said
MartinaKrueger, Greenpeace Expedition Leader on board the
ArcticSunrise. "How many more urgent warnings does the
BushAdministration need before it takes meaningful action on
climatechange?" said Krueger.
Other contacts: On board the Arctic SunriseDr. Gordon Hamilton and Greenpeace Expedition Leader Martina KruegerSatellite phone: + 871 1302577, +871 324453810Steve Sawyer, Greenpeace International climate campaigner (Amsterdam) +31-6-5350-4715Media office in Washington DC Susan Cavanagh +31 621296910Greenpeace photo desk +31 653819255Greenpeace video production +31 653504721
Exp. contact date: 2006-07-21 00:00:00