The Ice Stream in Greenland Has Been Melting for Many Years


The ice stream in Greenland has been analyzed by researchers for quite some time. However, only recently they discovered that the stream was melting for many years, despite what they believed. There have been environmental events during the past 45000 years which caused the Northeast Greenland Ice Stream to be smaller than it is now.

The Northeast Greenland Ice Stream

The Northeast Greenland Ice Stream manages to drain almost 12 percent of the ice sheet in Greenland, and it is the second largest body of ice in the world, as it is more than 300 miles long. According to a new study, the NEGIS was even smaller than it is today.

“There are some parts of the ice sheet that [is] relatively stable and others that show evidence of very rapid retreating — a pattern we’re seeing today as well as thousands of years ago,” said geologist Anders Carlson, a co-author on the study. “Some of it relates to bed topography — when the bed is below sea level, it stabilizes that part of the ice sheet. In low spots, it is unstable.”

It appears that environmental events have affected the Northeast Greenland Ice Stream in time. In the last years, it was climate change the factor that influenced the NEGIS. Around 41,000 to 26,00 years ago, the ice stream lost a lot of ice. That might be because there were warmer temperatures during summer, as well as low snowfall during winter.

Scientists managed to discover these changes by reconstructing the periods of changing air temperatures. It also helped that they studied the rocks in the Northeast Greenland Ice Stream. They discovered where the ice sheet margins were by looking for “sunburn” in the rocks. They also noticed that the rocks were exposed to cosmic rays.


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