Area of ​​lost ice in Greenland is equivalent to the size of Albania

Area of ​​lost ice in Greenland is equivalent to the size of Albania

A study by researchers at the British University of Leeds indicates that Greenland has lost ice and glaciers over the last 30 years, covering an area equivalent to the size of Albania. In places where the melt took place there are now rocks, swamps and bushes.

These are the conclusions, published this Tuesday in the magazine “Scientific Reports”, of a study, entitled “Changes in land cover in Greenland in three decades marked by a doubling of vegetation”.

The researchers, through an analysis of data obtained by satellite, calculated that, in the last three decades, 28,707 square kilometers of the ice sheet and glaciers in Greenland, an area equivalent to the size of Albania, have melted, and that “represents around 1, 6% of the island’s total ice and glacier coverage.

In a note, released by the University of Leeds, it is stated that “where there was once ice and snow, there are now arid rocks, swamps and bush areas”.

This team of scientists, who have been following changes in Greenland from the 1980s to the 2010s, point out that warmer air temperatures are causing melting ice, which is consequently having an impact on the temperature of the Earth. land surface, greenhouse gas emissions and the landscape.

There has also been a deterioration of “permafrost” (permanently frozen layer of soil) due to warming, which, according to scientists, could have an impact on infrastructure and communities in the area.

“Since the 1970s, the region has warmed at twice the global average rate. Between 2007 and 2012, average annual air temperatures were three degrees Celsius higher, compared to the average from 1979 to 2000”, say the scientists, warning of the possibility of more extreme temperatures in the future.

In an initial phase, ice loss occurred mainly at the ends of current glaciers and also in the north and southeast of Greenland, however, due to high temperatures, high levels of ice loss have been recorded in areas located in the west, center northwest and southeast.

Over the three decades, the area with vegetation increased by 87,475 km2, more than doubling during the period studied.

Jonathan Carrivick, from the Leeds School of Environment, one of the authors of the study, cited in the statement, says that: “We are seeing signs that the loss of ice is triggering other reactions that will result in greater ice loss and a greener Greenland. ‘verdant’, melting ice exposes rock which is then occupied by tundra and then shrubs.”

“At the same time, the water released by melting ice is moving sediment and silt and this forms wetlands and swamps.”, he adds.

The analysis shows an almost quadrupling of wetlands, which are sources of methane emissions (a gas that causes a greenhouse effect), throughout Greenland, with a special incidence in the east and northeast.

For the researchers, “the expansion of vegetation and especially of wetlands indicates, but also worsens, the thaw of ‘permafrost’ (…), which increases emissions of greenhouse gases previously stored in these Arctic soils”

Michael Grimes, lead author of the report, adds: “Vegetation expansion, occurring in conjunction with glacier and ice sheet retreat, is significantly altering the flow of sediment and nutrients into coastal waters.”

These changes, according to the scientist, are serious, particularly for the populations that live on the island, and depend on the delicate ecosystem for food.

“Furthermore, the loss of ice mass in Greenland is a major contributor to global sea level rise, a trend that poses significant challenges both now and in the future.”


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