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Greenland's super-fast ice slides could be bad news for climate change



According to a new study, the ice sheet of Greenland slides many times further than previously thought.

This means that the ice sheet can change faster in a warming climate, a group of researchers reported on July 10 in the journal Science Advances.

"Understanding the ice flow is very important for the prediction of the future melt from Greenland," said study leader Nathan Maier, a Ph.D. student at the University of Wyoming. Ice flows bring ice from the cold interior regions of the Greenland ice sheet to the warmer edges, where the ice melts. [Images of Melt: Earth’s Vanishing Ice]

The ice flow happens through two different processes: the gliding of the ice over the bed and the deformation that transforms the ice into a kind of "flowing molasses", said Maier. Understanding the relative scale of these two different types of movement helps scientists determine how much ice on the edges of the ice sheet reaches areas of high melting point.

Maier and his team drilled holes in the ice with a large drill. They also installed 21

2 inclinometers that measure the amount of deformation and sliding. From 2014 to 2016, the researchers measured ice movement and found that the Greenland ice sheet slides really fast over the underlying rock.

"This is quite surprising, as it is believed that these regions have much slower sliding speeds than regions resting on slippery mud," Maier told Live Science. "Even more surprising is that we recorded this behavior in winter when there is no surface melt that can further lubricate the bed and increase the sliding speed."

This means that "even over these relatively boring, slow – When areas of the ice sheet move on rocks, ice can be quickly brought into the Hochschmelzzonen," he added. The researchers even found that Greenland's most important continental ice sheet slips more than parts of the incredibly fast-moving glaciers on the periphery, like Jakobshavn in West Greenland.

Previous work showed that global warming has changed the ice movement along the edges of the ice sheet. This leads to greater thickening or thinning, which in turn leads to changes in the surface melt.

"Now that we have found high slips in all majorities, we looked at the ice cover, even in the most unlikely places like ours." We know that ice can move very efficiently, "he said," so it's likely that the thickening and dilution rates are faster than previously thought. "

This means that the ice may change faster in a warming climate than currently thought.

Originally posted on Live Science .


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