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Greenland: Ice melt could raise seas less than feared


Greenland’s glaciers are sliding into oceans at a faster pace than previously known, but they may contribute less to an expected rise in global sea level than feared

From 2000 to 2010, researchers at the University of Washington and Ohio State University monitored the vast rivers of ice that course across the world’s largest island.
Their results, published this week in the peer-reviewed journal Science, found that glaciers in northwestern and southeastern Greenland flowing toward the Arctic and Atlantic oceans picked up speed by about 30%, on average.

Previous estimates suggested melting Greenland ice could contribute as much as half a meter (about 19 inches) to the projected 2-meter increase in average sea levels by 2100 as a result of a warming global climate.

Data suggests that contribution will be less than existing worst-case scenarios.

Many of the roughly 200 glaciers studied move less than the length of a football field per year; others flow about a mile annually. One glacier in northern Greenland was clocked going from 50 meters to 650 meters a year (about 160 feet to 2,100 feet) over the course of seven years.

Greenland2_Scoresby Sund in eastern Greenland, the longest fjord in the world._Photo Fox-Talbot_icebergs at Scoresby Sund, East Greenland, July, 1970._ Sund in eastern Greenland, the longest fjord in the world. Photo Fox-Talbot, July 1970.

Greenland (Kalaallisut: Kalaallit Nunaat, “Land of the Kalaallit“; Danish: Grønland) is an autonomous country within the Kingdom of Denmark, located between the Arctic and Atlantic Oceans, east of the Canadian Arctic Archipelago. Though physiographically a part of the continent of North America, Greenland has been politically and culturally associated with Europe (specifically Norway and later Denmark) for more than a millennium.
Greenland is, by area, the world’s largest island that is not a continent.
With a population of 56,615 (January 2011 estimate) it is the least densely populated dependency or country in the world.

Greenland has been inhabited, though not continuously, by Arctic peoples via Canada for 4500–5000 years.
In the 10th century, Norsemen settled on the uninhabited southern part of Greenland. In the 13th century, the Inuit arrived, and in the late 15th century the Norse colonies were abandoned. In the early 18th century contact between Scandinavia and Greenland was re-established and Denmark established rule over Greenland.

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