Friday, September 20, 2019

With Greenland's Extreme Melting, a New Risk Grows:  Ice Slabs that Worsen Runoff

More meltwater is now pouring off these hardened surfaces and toward the ocean, a new study finds. That will have an impact on sea level rise.

Meltwater pools form on Greenland's surface as temperatures rise and feed into rivers that funnel water toward the ocean. New research shows ice slabs are now forming in areas where water used to sink into the snow layer, increasing runoff. (Credit: Dave Walsh/VW Pics/Universal Images Group via Getty Images) Click to Enlarge.
Scientists have added a new item to the long list of Greenland Ice Sheet woes.  Along with snow-darkening algae and increasing rainfall, giant slabs of ice have been thickening and spreading under the Greenland snow at an average rate of two football fields per minute since 2001, new research shows.

The slabs prevent surface meltwater from trickling down and being absorbed by the snow.  Instead, more water pours off the surface of the ice sheet and into the ocean.

That's speeding Greenland's contribution to sea level rise, said University of Liege climate researcher Xavier Fettweis, a co-author of a study published Wednesday in the journal Nature.  "It is very likely that the current climate models overestimate the meltwater retention capacity of the ice sheet and underestimate the projected sea level rise coming from Greenland ... by a factor of two or three," he said.

Read more at With Greenland's Extreme Melting, a New Risk Grows:  Ice Slabs that Worsen Runoff

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