Melting Greenland Ice Sheets: An Urgent Call to Action
A Report on South Greenland
By: Amisha, Anay, Eklavyajeet, Garv, Ishaan, Mehreet, Sahibb, Samardeep - India
Picture credit: Robert Swan
A CALL TO SAVE GREENLAND
The Greenland ice sheet melting crisis is a pressing environmental issue that has garnered significant attention in recent years. As one of the largest bodies of ice on Earth, the Greenland ice sheet plays a crucial role in regulating global climate patterns and sea levels. However, due to the effects of climate change, this massive ice sheet is undergoing a rapid and alarming meltdown, with far-reaching consequences for both the environment and human civilization.
The primary driver behind the Greenland ice sheet's melting crisis is anthropogenic climate change, largely attributed to the excessive emission of greenhouse gases, such as carbon dioxide and methane, into the Earth's atmosphere. The burning of fossil fuels, deforestation, and various industrial activities have significantly contributed to the rising concentrations of these greenhouse gases, leading to a rise in global temperatures which in turn results in the melting of ice sheets.
How are climatic changes affecting Greenland?
The most immediate and visible impact of the melting Greenland ice sheet is the rising sea levels. As the ice melts, the resulting water flows into the oceans, contributing to the global sea level rise. This poses a severe threat to coastal communities, low-lying islands, and major cities situated near coastlines worldwide. Even a relatively modest increase in sea levels can lead to devastating consequences, including increased coastal erosion, loss of habitat, saltwater intrusion into freshwater sources, and an increased frequency of storm surges.
The melting of the Greenland ice sheet also exacerbates the global warming crisis by creating a positive feedback loop. As the ice sheet melts, the exposed dark surfaces of land and water absorb more solar radiation, further warming the region. This additional warming then accelerates the melting process, causing a vicious cycle of more ice loss and increased warming.
Just off the western coast of the island, Ilulissat Icefjord has the largest collection of icebergs in Greenland. In 2004, the area was declared a UNESCO World Heritage site.PHOTOGRAPH BY KEITH LADZINSKI
The influx of cold freshwater from the melting ice sheet into the North Atlantic can disrupt ocean currents, such as the Atlantic Meridional Overturning Circulation (AMOC). This circulation pattern plays a critical role in redistributing heat around the globe, influencing weather patterns and climate stability. If the AMOC weakens or collapses due to increased freshwater input, it could have profound and unpredictable impacts on regional and global climate systems.
Significance of the study:
A fisherman casts a line off southeastern Greenland’s shore. The island’s rivers and lakes are fertile spots for arctic char, Atlantic wolffish, and salmon.
More frequently found on the eastern coast of the island, polar bears are known as tornassuk—the master of helping spirits by the Inuit people.
Remote cirques, narrow fjords, and sweeping valleys form the perfect backdrop for outdoor adventures such as hiking, snowshoeing, and ice climbing.
Objectives of study
Table 1 shows that on June 5 out of 420 observations, there were 369 lakes and 51 Plain ice surfaces.
Observations of June 20
Table 2 shows that on June 20 out of 420 observations there were 235 lakes, 2 frozen lakes, 152 dry bed lakes and 31 plain ice surfaces.
Observations of July 19
Table 3 shows that there were 63 lakes, 4 frozen lakes, 330 dry bed lakes and 23 plain ice surfaces observed on July 19.
On August 19, out of 420 observations there were 19 lakes, 142 plain ice surfaces, 242 dry bed lakes and 17 frozen lakes.
Table 5: Comparison of features of South Greenland formed on 4 different dates
If we analyze the data of South Greenland from June 5 to August 19, it is seen that number of lakes observed from June 5 to August 19 decreased from 369 on June 5 to 19 on August 19, plain ice surfaces decreased form 51 on June 5 to 23 on July 19 and then increased to 142 on August 19.
There were no frozen lakes observed on June 5 but 2 frozen lakes were observed on June 20, 4 on July 19 and increased to 17 on August 19. No dry bed lakes were observed on June 5, 152 dry bed lakes were observed on June 20 and the number doubled (330) on July 19. Again number of dry bed lakes decreased to 242 on August 19.
Annexure: References Web links
Youth Leaders: Amisha, Anay, Eklavyajeet, Garv, Ishaan, Mehreet, Sahibb, Samardeep - India