Greenland's ice sheet melting fast

Published: Friday 15 September 2006

Experiencing heat (Credit: NASA)The meltdown of Greenland's ice sheet has accelerated since 2004 and most of the ice is being lost from its eastern part, shows satellite data.

The ice sheet is melting at a rate of about 239 cubic kilometres per year, according to Jianli Chen of the University of Texas at Austin. Chen and his colleagues arrived at the figure after studying monthly changes in the earth's gravity between April 2002 and November 2005. The figure is about three times higher than an earlier estimation of the ice loss from Greenland. It would amount to a global sea level rise of about half-a-millimetre each year.

Chen and his colleagues partly attribute this to increased global warming in the past one-and-a-half years and partly to better processing of data. "Acceleration of mass (melted ice) loss over Greenland, if confirmed, would be consistent with proposed increased global warming in recent years," the scientists wrote in the Science journal.

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