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Greenland Ice Sheet On A Downward Slide

Greenbelt MD (SPX) Oct 20, 2006
Greenland's massive ice sheet has lost nearly 100 gigatons of ice annually recently, much of it in low-elevation regions along the continent's southeastern coast, including the southern tip (pictured here). Credit: NASA MODIS Land Rapid Response Team.
For the first time NASA scientists have analyzed data from direct, detailed satellite measurements to show that ice losses now far surpass ice gains in the shrinking Greenland ice sheet.
Using a novel technique that reveals regional changes in the weight of the massive ice sheet across the entire continent, scientists at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, Md., report that Greenland's low coastal regions lost 155 gigatons (41 cubic miles) of ice per year between 2003 and 2005 from excess melting and icebergs, while the high-elevation interior gained 54 gigatons (14 cubic miles) annually from excess snowfall. The study appears in Science Express, the advance edition of Science, on Oct. 19.
"With this new analysis we observe dramatic ice mass losses concentrated in the low-elevation coastal regions, with nearly half of the loss coming from southeast Greenland," said lead author Scott Luthcke of NASA Goddard's Planetary Geodynamics Laboratory. "In the 1990's the ice was very close to balance with gains at about the same level as losses. That situation has now changed significantly, with an annual net loss of ice equal to nearly six years of average water flow from the Colorado River."

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