The speed at which the glaciers in Greenland melted into pure water has left a climatologist frozen with shock. Dr Alun Hubbard, from the Institute of Geography and Earth Sciences at Aberystwyth University, who has been studying the Petermann Glacier in north-west Greenland, described the pictures showing how fast the ice sheet had melted as `gob-smacking’.
The climate change expert, familiar with the glacier, couldn’t believe that the whole mass of ice had melted in two years’ time – between 24 July 2009 and 24 July 2011.
The melting of glaciers is an indicator by which the warming of the globe is measured. Climate change experts had already predicted that sea-level rises caused as the planet warms up and the glaciers melt could devastate coastal and island communities.
The British glaciologist who has been observing and studying the Petermann Glacier – over 300km long and makes up 6 per cent of the Greenland ice sheet – said he was completely unprepared for the overwhelming, gob-smacking scale of the breakup.
Dr. Hubbard had visited the site in July 2009 and again in July this year to observe the change.
This glacier is huge, 20 km wide and over 600 m thick and hemmed in by sheer cliffs that rise to 1000 m on either side. To the scientist, it seemed like looking into the Grand Canyon full of ice and coming back two years later to find it’s full of water.
The recovered GPS data is being processed at Aberystwyth.
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