Greenland’s major glacier sees ‘temporary’ growth, but its future remains bleak – National

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A significant Greenland glacier that was one of many quickest shrinking ice and snow plenty on Earth is rising once more, a brand new NASA examine finds.

The Jakobshavn (YA-cob-shawv-en) glacier round 2012 was retreating about three kilometres and thinning practically 40 metres yearly. Nevertheless it began rising once more at about the identical charge prior to now two years, based on a examine in Monday’s Nature Geoscience. Examine authors and outdoors scientists assume that is short-term.


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“That was form of a shock. We form of received used to a runaway system,” mentioned Geological Survey of Denmark and Greenland ice and local weather scientist Jason Field.

“The excellent news is that it’s a reminder that it’s not essentially going that quick. However it’s going.”

Field, who wasn’t a part of the examine, mentioned Jakobshavn is “arguably an important Greenland glacier as a result of it discharges essentially the most ice within the northern hemisphere. For all of Greenland, it’s king.”

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A pure cyclical cooling of North Atlantic waters probably brought about the glacier to reverse course, mentioned examine lead creator Ala Khazendar, a NASA glaciologist on the Oceans Melting Greenland (OMG) mission. Khazendar and colleagues say this coincides with a flip of the North Atlantic Oscillation — a pure and short-term cooling and warming of elements of the ocean that is sort of a distant cousin to El Nino within the Pacific.

The water in Disko Bay, the place Jakobshavn hits the ocean, is about 2 levels Celsius cooler than a couple of years in the past, examine authors mentioned.


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Whereas that is “excellent news” on a brief foundation, that is dangerous information on the long run as a result of it tells scientists that ocean temperature is an even bigger participant in glacier retreats and advances than beforehand thought, mentioned NASA local weather scientist Josh Willis, a examine co-author. Over the a long time the water has been and will probably be warming from man-made local weather change, he mentioned, noting that about 90 per cent of the warmth trapped by greenhouse gases goes into the oceans.

“In the long term we’ll most likely have to boost our predictions of sea stage rise once more,” Willis mentioned.

Consider the ocean temperatures close to Greenland like an escalator that’s rising slowly from international warming, Khazendar mentioned. However the pure North Atlantic Oscillation generally is like leaping down a couple of steps or leaping up a couple of steps. The water can get cooler and have results, however in the long term it’s getting hotter and the melting will probably be worse, he mentioned.

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4 outdoors scientists mentioned the examine and outcomes make sense.

College of Washington ice scientist Ian Joughin, who wasn’t a part of the examine and predicted such a change seven years in the past, mentioned it might be a “grave mistake” to interpret the most recent information as contradicting local weather change science.

What’s taking place, Joughin mentioned, is “to a big extent, a brief blip. Downturns do happen within the inventory market, however general the long run trajectory is up. That is actually the identical factor.”

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