Greenland’s Not-So-Rapidly Flowing Glaciers

By:  Rebecca Terrell
05/04/2012
       
Greenland’s Not-So-Rapidly Flowing Glaciers

 New research proves Greenland's glaciers are flowing more slowly than predicted, but experts still fear threats to coastal communities from sea level rise. Are their fears unfounded?

New research proves Greenland's glaciers are flowing more slowly than predicted, but experts still fear threats to coastal communities from sea level rise. Are their fears unfounded?

 

Greenland's glaciers are flowing at a slower pace than predicted, according to a team of experts who published results of their research in the latest issue of Science magazine. Studies at the turn of the 21st century forecasted as much as a doubling of glacier velocity by 2010, threatening a drastic rise in sea level. However, according to the new research from the University of Washington and Ohio State University, "Observed acceleration indicates that sea level rise from Greenland may fall well below proposed upper bounds."

The team collected satellite data from 2000 to 2010 tracking more than 200 of Greenland's outlet glaciers, ice rivers that flow directly from ice caps to the sea. Glacier velocity measures how fast this ice flows. Though actual speeds were significantly less than predicted, they found the ice sheets moving on average 30 percent faster than a decade ago.

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