NASA discovers yet another mode of ice loss in Greenland
A new study by three NASA scientists found another cause of glacial collapse. The discovery suggests that ice on the Rink glacier, Greenland, does not rely only on faster than usual, glided through the interior of the glacier into a gigantic wave. This is similar to a heated heater slides out of its plastic housing.
The initial objective of the study, to accurately track the mass loss of an ice melting glacier by horizontal motion of a GPS sensor, led to this discovery. The team used single sensor data on the Greenland GPS network (GNET), located at the bottom of the rock beside the Rink glacier.
The researchers looked at the wave pattern in GPS data for 2010, the second hottest recorded in Greenland. Although they do not quantify the exact size and speed of the wave in the year 2010, the GPS data movement patterns indicate that it must have been less than the 2012 wavelength, but similar in speed.
Scientists theorize that previously known processes have been combined for mass movements so quickly. The huge volume of water lubricates the base of the glacier, allowing it to move faster, and the lateral margins softened as the glacier flows into rock or stationary ice. These changes have allowed the ice to slide downstream so quickly that the ice later inside the interior could not be maintained.
“We know for certain that the triggering mechanism was the melting of the surface of snow and ice, but we do not fully understand the complex processes that generate solitary waves,” said JPL scientist Surendra Adhikari, who led the study according to The space agency, the wave was not detected by the usual methods. The usual method is to measure glaciers of thinning with an air radar.
Pista is one of Greenland’s main outlets in the ocean, which drain some 11 billion tonnes of ice per year. However, during the summer of 2012, it lost 6 million million additional pieces in the form of a solitary wave. The loss of long pulse mass, called a solitary wave, is the new discovery. This could increase the potential for ice loss in Greenland supported as the climate warms up.
The study, published in the journal Geophysical Research Letters, describes the new discovery in detail.