Clean rock

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.

– Andrew

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