Friday 27 July 2012

The Greenland ice melt

Meltwater from Greenland glacier wipes out key crossing
Scientists in Kangerlussuaq on western edge of ice sheet film runoff from glacier washing out roads and taking out a tractor

25 July, 2012

The gust of warm air that caused the unprecedented thaw in Greenland's surface ice also appears to have caused unusually high runoff from a glacier, wiping out a crossing near a key research and transport hub.

Scientists who fly in Kangerlussuaq, near the western edge of the ice sheet, have been keeping an eye on the Watson river bridge for years.

The bridge dates from the 1950s, but wasn't built for the magnitude of spring and summer melt of the last 12 years or so, said Jason Box, a glaciologist at Ohio State University who returned on Tuesday from a three-week stint in Greenland.

"The midsummer floods have been growing and threatening this bridge and finally took it out," he said. "It washed out roads and took out a tractor."

The river is fed by the nearby Russell Glacier, which sits just outside of town. Unlike other glaciers, which are exposed to the warming ocean waters, it sits entirely on land.
Box, who works extensively in Greenland, has publicly warned that the ice melt is accelerating, in part because the snow and ice are losing their reflective capabilities.
It was T-shirt weather some days in Greenland this month, he said. Such warms days were not unheard of though, he added.

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