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The southern tip of Greenland from the Space Shuttle Mission STS045, courtesy of NASA.
Global sea level may rise more rapidly than current models predict. Recent research has shown that the velocity of several large glaciers that discharge ice from the Greenland Ice Sheet has increased, in some cases even doubling in speed. The changes that are occurring around the Greenland Ice Sheet and what they mean for its future are the subject of ongoing research at Swansea University.
‘Current ice sheet models that are used to predict sea level rise do not account for this rapid increase in glacier velocity that has been measured at several of Greenland’s outlet glaciers,’ explains Tim James of Swansea University’s School of the Environment and Society.
The Greenland Ice Sheet contains about 5.5 million cubic kilometres of ice, which would raise global sea level by about 7 metres if it were to melt. Using a variety of innovative techniques such as satellite, laser and radar imaging, researchers at Swansea are investigating the causes behind the increases in glacier velocity and are looking back in time to try and understand how the ice sheet and its glaciers have changed in the past. This research will enable a better understanding of ice sheet dynamics and improve the accuracy of predicted sea level rise.
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