Last Stable Part of Greenland Ice Sheet No Longer Stable

It's losing 10B tons of ice every year

By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff

Posted Mar 17, 2014 1:18 AM CDT

(Newser) – A startling change uncovered in the world's second-largest ice sheet means rising sea levels are set to accelerate, researchers warn. A new study finds that the northeast Greenland ice sheet, once thought to be the only remaining stable part of the ice sheet, has been shedding a staggering 10 billion tons of ice every year since 2003, LiveScience reports. "We're seeing an acceleration of ice loss," a study co-author says. "Now, there's more ice leaving than snow arriving."

"Northeast Greenland used to be considered the last stable part of the Greenland ice sheet," he explains. "This study shows that ice loss in the northeast is now accelerating. So, now it seems that all of the margins of the Greenland ice sheet are unstable." The researchers, who say the decline of Greenland's ice sheet has accounted for around a sixth of annual sea level rise, warn that the ice stream flowing from the northeast could soon dramatically change the total mass balance of the ice sheet, USA Today reports.

Two people look at a 60-foot-deep canyon that was carved over the course of several years by turbulent water overflow from a large melt lake southwest of Ilulissat, Greenland.
Two people look at a 60-foot-deep canyon that was carved over the course of several years by turbulent water overflow from a large melt lake southwest of Ilulissat, Greenland.   (AP Photo/Ian Joughin)
This photo provided by Ian Joughin shows surface melt water rushing along the surface of the Greenland Ice Sheet through a supra-glacial stream channel, southwest of Ilulissat, Greenland.
This photo provided by Ian Joughin shows surface melt water rushing along the surface of the Greenland Ice Sheet through a supra-glacial stream channel, southwest of Ilulissat, Greenland.   (AP Photo/Ian Joughin)
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