by Guest Blogger
August 9, 2005
Just after leaving Narsaq, Jason (scientist) went by helicopter about 25
miles west of the town to Sermilik Isbrae glacier, and brought back this
photo. You can see the vegetation line 800 feet (245m) above sea level
where the glacier was a century and a half ago. (Look for the dark green
stuff in the upper right corner of the image.) Lichen and other
vegetation are moving into the newly exposed territory, but much more
slowly than the ice is receding.
Measurements of the glacier’s height show that it thinned 395 feet
(120m) between 1985 and 20001 – the largest documented
thinning of any Greenland glacier. It used to also have a floating
tongue extending down the fjord, but has now retreated back into shallow
water where its front rests on the fjord bottom, right at the edge of
the ice cap.
With our help, Jason set up an automatic camera that will take a picture
of the glacier’s front every four hours (during daylight). He will use
these images to track how fast the ice is flowing down the glacier from
the ice cap, into the sea.
The changes to this glacier were already documented before our visit,
but are yet another sign that the Greenland ice sheet is in danger. If
you want to help put the breaks on global warming, and you live in the
U.S. (the world’s worst global warming polluter), sign up to the Thin Ice
Contest for ways you can take action.