Green Land ICE melts four times faster in a decade: Study

Prelims level : Environment Mains level : Conservation, environmental pollution and degradation, environmental impact assessment In
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  • Greenland’s melting ice, which causes sea levels to rise, disappeared four times faster in 2013 than in 2003 and is noticeable across the Arctic island, not just on glaciers.


  • “While 111 cubic kilometres of ice disappeared per year in 2003, 10 years later this figure had almost quadrupled to 428 cubic km,
  • These are notable and surprising changes we are seeing in the ice melt pattern
  • Until now, most of Greenland’s ice melt was observed on the ice cap, predominantly on the glaciers in the island’s northwest and southeast. But most of the ice loss from 2003 to 2013 was from Greenland’s southwest region, which is largely devoid of large glaciers.
  • The ice now appeared to be melting from the surface mass, “melting inland from the coastline. That means that in the southwestern part of Greenland, growing rivers of water are streaming into the ocean.
  • We knew we had one big problem with increasing rates of ice discharge by some large outlet glaciers. But now we recognise a second serious problem: Increasingly, large amounts of ice mass are going to leave as meltwater, as rivers that flow into the sea this would have major implications, causing additional sea level rise.
  • The melting ice observed in the study is caused by rising land temperatures, and in part, the fact that the ice comes into contact with waters that are increasingly warmer
  • As the atmosphere’s temperature gradually rises, we will immediately notice an acceleration of the ice melt


  • Greenland is the largest island in the world. Its northerly location, at the point where the Atlantic meets the Arctic Ocean, means that Greenland is surrounded principally by cold ocean currents so the coasts are constantly being cooled.
  • This, combined with the radiation of cold from the inland ice, gives Greenland its arctic climate. The ice cap or inland ice covers 1,833,900 square km, equivalent to 85 percent of Greenland’s total area, and extends 2,500 km (1,553 miles) from north to south and up to 1,000 km from east to west. At its center, the ice can be up to 3 km thick, representing 10 percent of the world’s total fresh water reserves. If all the ice were to melt, the world’s oceans would rise seven meters.
  • Denmark contributes two thirds of Greenland’s budget revenue, the rest coming mainly from fishing. Potential oil, gas and rare earth mineral reserves have attracted prospecting firms.
  • The USA has long seen Greenland as strategically important and established a radar base at Thule at the start of the Cold War
  • The Northern Lights appear all year round, but they are most impressive in the autumn months. They can also be seen in March and they “disappear” in the light summer nights.
  • The midnight sun is another magnificent Greenland phenomenon which is encountered north of the Arctic Circle. Daylight can be enjoyed round the clock, depending on how far north you are.
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