February 5, 2014 – We don’t think of glaciers as fast moving rivers of ice. But there is one in Greenland that dispels that image. It is called the Jakobshavn Glacier, and during the last two summers it has sped up in its outflow towards the sea to a speed three times faster than what was observed in the 1990s, and 30 to 50% faster than the previous two years. At the same time the glacier’s melting has increased with it retreating up its valley fjord over one kilometer (0.6 miles) in the last two years.
Is this further evidence of a warming atmosphere? It certainly appears to be so in the Arctic where average annual temperatures are rising faster than anywhere else on the planet.
For the scientists studying, Jakobshavn, believed to be the source of the famous ice berg of Titanic legend, the current trend suggests a retreat of as much as 50 kilometers by mid-century, and an attendant contribution to sea level rise of as much as a half centimeter globally. That rise doesn’t sound like much but Jakobshavn is one of a number of glaciers in the High Arctic that are demonstrating similar behavior. Take them all together and the numbers start to add up.