This month’s Yale Climate Connections “This Is Not Cool” video by independent videographer Peter Sinclair presents images from a research group’s summer of 2014 “Dark Snow” project in Greenland.
“Thousands of nameless short-lived lakes” increasingly reflect “a doubling of the mass loss rate” of Greenland ice over the past decade, says Professor Jason Box, of the Geological Survey of Denmark and Greenland. He says the same holds true for Antarctica.
Damage to the base of the ice sheet and in deep interior areas are unprecedented over at least the past 10,000 years, says glaciologist Alun Hubbard of Aberstwyth University in Wales.
Because of their dark color relative to the surrounding ice sheet, the short-lived lakes absorb sun light… “they’re like big solar collectors,” says Box. He adds the lakes are increasing in size and number.
Rushing water plunging deep through moulins deliver warmth “to regions that have been frozen solid for many millennia,” says Sinclair, who participated in the research trip and did extensive video work while there. That lubricates the ice sheet flow and softens the ice, leading it to flow faster under its own weight, Box explains. One result: more ice bergs calving-off at the glacier front, accelerating ice loss.
Box says Greenland’s sea level contribution has increased from one-half millimeter per year 10 years ago to one millimeter now. He says that loss rate is expected to double every five to 12 years. The next decade Greenland’s losing two millimeters a year, the one after that four millimeters per year. By the end of the century, at that rate, Greenland alone would be accounting for about one meter per year… “just from Greenland.”