March 5, 2024

Unprecedented Retreat – Once Stable Glacier Now Rapidly Receding at an Alarming Rate

Greenlands Steenstrup Glacier has actually pulled away 5 miles, thinned by 20%, doubled its ice discharge, and quadrupled in speed in between 2018 and 2021, according to a study led by The Ohio State University. The quick change locations Steenstrup in the leading 10% of glaciers contributing to the regions overall ice discharge, highlighting the vulnerability of even stable glaciers to unexpected retreat due to warmer waters, with prospective effects for worldwide water level rise.
A recent research study has exposed that the rising temperatures of the Atlantic Ocean are putting previously stable glaciers at threat.
According to a current research study, a when highly stable glacier in Greenland is now pulling away at an extraordinary rate, likely due to the impacts of increasing ocean temperatures triggered by environment modification.
A team of scientists from The Ohio State University recently discovered that Steenstrup Glacier in Greenland has undergone a significant transformation from 2018 to 2021. The glacier has pulled back a range of roughly 5 miles, experienced a 20% decline in density, and seen a doubling in the quantity of ice it launches into the ocean.
The study was just recently published in the journal Nature Communications.

A team of scientists from The Ohio State University just recently found that Steenstrup Glacier in Greenland has undergone a considerable transformation from 2018 to 2021. The glacier has actually pulled back a distance of around 5 miles, experienced a 20% decline in thickness, and seen a doubling in the quantity of ice it releases into the ocean. This makes it one of the top 10% of glaciers that contribute to the overall ice discharge in the region.
If the Greenland Ice Sheet were to melt, Earths sea levels could increase by almost 25 feet. In contrast, if the ice sheet in Antarctica were to fall apart, its possible that oceans would rise by almost 200 feet, Chudley stated.

The Steenstrup Glacier becomes part of The Greenland Ice Sheet, a body of ice that covers nearly 80% of the worlds largest island, which is likewise the single biggest factor to global sea increase from the cryosphere, the part of Earths environment that consists of all of its frozen water. While the area plays an important part in balancing the international environment system, the location is gradually shrinking as it sheds numerous billions of tons of ice each year due to the fact that of global warming.
Over the past couple of years, much of this loss has actually been associated to accelerated ice discharge from tidewater glaciers, glaciers that make contact with the ocean. Many glaciologists think that this current uptick in ice discharge can be discussed by the invasion of warming waters that are being swept from the Atlantic into Greenlandic fjords– crucial oceanic gateways that can impact the stability of regional glaciers and the health of polar ecosystems.
The research study team aimed to evaluate that theory by analyzing a glacier in the southeastern region of Greenland called K.I.V Steenstrups Nordre Bræ, an entity more informally known as the Steenstrup Glacier.
” Up until 2016, there was nothing to recommend Steenstrup was in any way fascinating,” said Thomas Chudley, lead author of the study, who completed this work as a research associate at the Byrd Polar and Climate Research. Chudley is now a Leverhulme research fellow at Durham University in the UK.
” There were a lot of other glaciers in Greenland that had actually pulled away considerably considering that the 1990s and increased their contribution to sea level increase, but this truly wasnt one of them.”
As far as researchers knew, Steenstrup had actually not just been stable for years however was normally insensitive to the increasing temperatures that had destabilized a lot of other local glaciers, likely because of its separated position in shallow waters.
It wasnt up until Chudley and his associates put together observational and modeling information from previous remote picking up analyses on the glacier that the team realized Steenstrup was likely experiencing melt due to anomalies in deeper Atlantic water.
” Our present working hypothesis is that ocean temperature levels have actually required this retreat,” Chudley said. “The reality that the glaciers velocity has actually quadrupled in just a couple of years opens new questions about how fast large ice masses can really react to environment change.”
In the last few years, glaciologists have been able to utilize satellite information to approximate the possible volume of glacial ice stored at the poles and how it might impact current sea levels. For circumstances, if the Greenland Ice Sheet were to melt, Earths water level could increase by nearly 25 feet. In contrast, if the ice sheet in Antarctica were to break down, its possible that oceans would increase by almost 200 feet, Chudley said.
While Greenland and Antarctica would take centuries to collapse totally, the global cryosphere has the possible to trigger sea levels to increase about six feet this century if the West Antarctic Ice Sheet goes through collapse.
As around 10% of the planets population resides in low-lying seaside zones, Chudley stated that any significant rise in water level can trigger increased risk to low-lying islands and seaside neighborhoods from storm surges and tropical cyclones.
In the United States, sea level rise presents a particular danger to seaside cities in places like Florida or Louisiana, Chudley said. However that doesnt necessarily suggest its too late to stop such a future from happening. If environment policies develop quickly, humans might have an opportunity at stopping the worst of sea level rise, Chudley said.
In general, Steenstrups special habits reveals that even long-term steady glaciers are susceptible to fast and unexpected retreat as warmer waters begin to intrude and affect new environments.
While the research study states continued clinical observation of the Steenstrup Glacier need to be a priority, it concludes other similar glaciers likewise are worthy of attention due to the fact that of their prospective to retreat due to warming waters.
Comprehending more about these interactions might supply essential insight into how glaciers flourish in other places around the globe and even become a sign of how these environments might change in the future.
” Whats taking place in Greenland today is sort of the canary in the coal mine of what may take place in West Antarctica over the next couple of centuries,” Chudley said. “So it would be fantastic to be able to enter the fjord with real on-the-ground observations and see how and why Steenstrup has altered.”
Reference: “Atlantic water intrusion activates quick retreat and routine modification at previously steady Greenland glacier” by T. R. Chudley, I. M. Howat, M. D. King and A. Negrete, 19 April 2023, Nature Communications.DOI: 10.1038/ s41467-023-37764-7.
The research study was moneyed by NASA. Other Ohio State co-authors were Ian M. Howat and Adelaide Negrete of the Byrd Polar and Climate Research. Michalea D. King of the University of Washington was also a co-author.