Geoscientists discover mechanisms controlling Greenland ice sheet collapse

phys.org | 3/2/2017 | Staff
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Greenland's more than 860,000 square miles are largely covered with ice and glaciers, and its melting fuels as much as one-third of the sea level rise in Florida. That's why a team of University of South Florida geoscientists' new discovery of one of the mechanisms that allows Greenland's glaciers to collapse into the sea has special significance for the Sunshine State.

In research published in Nature Communications, a group of scientists led by USF Distinguished University Professor Tim Dixon, Ph.D., uncovered a process that can control the "calving" of glaciers—when large chunks of glacier ice collapse into the sea, forming icebergs like the one that sank the Titanic. The discovery by the team that included USF Ph.D. student Surui Xie; David Holland, Ph.D., and Irena Vaková, Ph.D., at New York University (NYU) and NYU-Abu Dhabi Research Institute; and Denis Voytenko, Ph.D., formerly at NYU and now at Nielson Communications, will help the scientific community better model future Greenland ice loss and sea level rise.

Glacier - Calving - Aspects - Climate - Change

Glacier calving is one of the more dramatic aspects of climate change. Depending on the height of the glacier, calving can be akin to an ice structure the size of a tall skyscraper falling into the sea. Dixon's team caught one such calving on video.

"Iceberg calving has been challenging to model," Dixon said. "One of the big unknowns in future sea level rise is how fast Greenland falls apart, and iceberg calving is one of the least understood mechanisms."

Team - Greenland - Summer - Radar - System

The team ventured to Greenland in the summer of 2016 to install a new radar system to better understand the process. In particular, they wanted to monitor formations known as pro-glacial "mélange" (from the French word for mixture), a combination of sea ice and icebergs in front of the glacier. The mélange can be...
(Excerpt) Read more at: phys.org
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