Greenland holds the world's second largest amount of ice, second only to Antarctica. Ice covers four-fifths of Greenland's surface and reaches depths of almost two miles at its thickest spots. The island's large glaciers get the most attention and are attentively monitored while the smaller glaciers go largely unobserved. But a new study reports that it's actually these small coastal glaciers that are more significant, in terms of melting and contribution to sea level rise, than the larger glaciers.
Global warming is accelerating the rate at which small coastal glaciers, which have a larger surface area to volume ratio and consequently a faster melt rate, are breaking off from the main ice sheet and flowing out to sea. Using satellite data, scientists found that more than 72% of Greenland's total ice loss is due to about 30, largely unmonitored, small coastal glaciers.
With these findings, scientists say that Greenland satellite observations and studies need to focus on the entire ice sheet, rather than mostly on large and inland glaciers, in order to make more accurate and comprehensive predictions regarding Greenland's contribution to potential sea level rise.
And in case you need visual evidence, check out photos and videos of Greenland's rapidly melting glaciers at http://ExtremeIceSurvey.org.
Image: Science via www.livescience.com.