Greenland’s fastest-moving glacier breaks speed record

greenland-flagGreenland’s Jakobshavn Glacier is moving ice from the country’s ice sheet at a faster speed than has ever been recorded, according to researchers in Washington.

University of Washington Polar Science Center researcher Ian Joughin said that speeds in the summer months are now reaching more than four times as fast as what was recorded during the 1990s on Jakobshavn, which they believe has been the fastest glacier in Greenland since that time.

The glacier hit speeds of over 17kms per year in the summer months of 2012, a distance that equated to 46 metres a day. The researchers have described the flow rates as “unprecedented” and claim they are the fastest that have ever been recorded for an ice stream or glacier in Antarctica or Greenland.

They point out that speeds recorded in the summer are temporary as they slow down during the winter months. However, they note that the average annual speed over the last couple of years is almost three times what was recorded during the 1990s.

The Jakobshavn Glacier speedup means it is moving more ice from the glacier to the ocean which, in turn, is contributing to the rise in sea levels. Joughin said they know that between 2000 and 2010 Jakobshavn contributed to a 1mm rise in sea level. He added that with the new speeds hit, it is expected to contribute even more during the next decade.

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