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International effort reveals Greenland ice loss

13 November 2015

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One of Greenland's glaciers is losing five billion tonnes of ice a year to the ocean, according to researchers. While these new findings may be disturbing, they are reinforced by a concerted effort to map changes in ice sheets with different sensors from space agencies around the world.

It is estimated that the entire Zachariae Isstrom glacier in northeast Greenland holds enough water to raise global sea levels by more than 46 cm.

Jeremie Mouginot, from the University of California Irvine in the USA and lead author of the paper published in the journal Science, said, "The shape and dynamics of Zachariae Isstrom have changed dramatically over the last few years.

"The glacier is now breaking up and calving high volumes of icebergs into the ocean, which will result in rising sea levels for decades to come."

As one of the first regions to experience and visibly demonstrate the effects of climate change, the Arctic serves as a barometer for change in the rest of the world. It is therefore critical that polar ice is monitored comprehensively and in a sustained manner.

The value of international organisations joining forces to understand aspects of our planet such as this cannot be underestimated.

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