It turns out that record-breaking weather systems aren’t the only threats to northern ice sheets: researchers measuring the temperature of the water at the face of Greenland’s Helheim Glacier found that the water was abnormally warm, not just near the surface, but all the way down to the seafloor 760 meters (2,500 feet) below.

“It’s very rare anywhere on the planet to see 700 meters of no temperature variation, normally we find colder waters in the upper hundred meters or so, but right in front of the glacier it’s warm all the way up,” said Ian Fenty, a climate scientist with NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory. “These warm waters now are able to be in direct contact with the ice over its entire face, supercharging the melting.”

Fenty took part in NASA’s Oceans Melting Greenland (OMG) program, an aerial survey that investigates how the temperature of the water around Greenland is affecting the island’s glaciers. Fenty’s team made use of a modified Douglas DC-3 aircraft to drop subsurface probes into the ocean to directly measure the water’s temperature, from the surface all the way down to the ocean floor. On August 15, the team spotted a stretch of open water at the foot of Helheim Glacier, and launched probes into it.

Video taken by an embedded CNN reporter during the flight shows that the probe registered a slight temperature increase as it descended, until about 210 meters (690 feet) down when the temperature leveled off at around 4°C (39.2°F); the probe landed on the ocean floor 770 meters (2,525 feet) down, where the temperature was 4.1°C (39.4°F). While these temperatures might seem frigid to us, it’s well above the melting point of water, a dangerous condition for the ice shelf floating above.

Helheim Glacier itself is one of Greenland’s largest, and is the fastest-flowing ice field on Greenland’s east coast. Named after the realm of the dead in Norse mythology, it is roughly six and a half kilometers (four miles) wide and is as tall as the Statue of Liberty. The glacier has also accelerated its flow by over one-third since the start of the century, speeding up from 8 km (5.0 mi) per year in 2000 to 11 km (6.8 mi) per year by 2005.

The issue of glaciers being melted by ocean water from below is typically a concern from the ice shelves found in West Antarctica, but the mechanism it the same in their northern counterparts: water is a very effective medium for transferring heat, and can rapidly erode the ice from below, as warm air attacks the glacier from above. Earlier this month, it was reported that Greenland experienced massive ice melt over the course of July, including a record-breaking one day loss of over 10 billion tonnes (11 billion tons) in July.

“There is enough ice in Greenland to raise the sea levels by 7.5 meters, that’s about 25 feet, an enormous volume of ice, and that would be devastating to coastlines all around the planet,” warns oceanographer Josh Willis, also part of the OMG survey team. “We should be retreating already from the coastline if we are looking at many meters [lost] in the next century or two.”

5 Comments

  1. HAHAHA the OMG! project. Sadly, thats just funny
    I had to.
    HG

    1. Hey there HG how about letting me in on the joke. I’m such a dope I’m not getting it???

      1. “OMG” is also a common abbreviation standing for “Oh My God,” undoubtedly a deliberate backronym on the team founders’ part.

  2. This article was re-published recently…….Found it to be interesting.

    The Billionaire Escape Plans…

    https://www.forbes.com/sites/jimdobson/2017/06/10/the-shocking-doomsday-maps-of-the-world-and-the-billionaire-escape-plans/#623a321a4047

    “However, he did say it is far more likely an asteroid hit would cause a polar shift. This could ultimately lead to cataclysmic change and a map similar to Scallions original vision.”

    “With all of this knowledge of future mapping, do the world’s financial leaders know something we don’t? Consider how many of the richest families have been grabbing up massive amounts of farmland around the world. All property is far away from coastal areas, and in locations conducive to self-survival, farming and coal mining.”

    “It appears that dry territories in the United States such as Montana, New Mexico, Wyoming and Texas are all very popular regions for the wealthiest individuals. Billionaires such as John Malone (currently the largest landowner in America, owns 2,200,000 acres including Wyoming and Colorado), Ted Turner (2,000,000 acres in Montana, Nebraska, New Mexico and North Dakota), Philip Anschultz (434,000 acres in Wyoming), Amazon’s Jeff Bezos (400,000 acres in Texas) and Stan Kroenke (225,162 acres in Montana) all have amassed major land. Upon further research, many billionaires are preparing for future escape plans with “vacation homes” in remote locations. Many of them also have their private planes ready to depart at a moment’s notice.”

    “Billionaire Bill Gates recently acquired 28,000 acres in Arizona to create his own city called Belmont. According to the company announcement; “Belmont will create a forward-thinking community with a communication and infrastructure spine that embraces cutting-edge technology, designed around high-speed digital networks, data centers, new manufacturing technologies and distribution models, autonomous vehicles and autonomous logistics hubs.” The company details the plans including; 3,800 acres for office, commercial and retail space, 470 acres for public schools and there are plans for 80,000 residential units. “Belmont will transform a raw, blank land into a futuristic city built around a flexible infrastructure model” added Belmont Properties.”

    “All post polar shift predictions are based on theories from Gordon-Michael Scallion, Edgar Cayce and others, and should not be construed as fact.”

    1. And I thought the meek were supposed to inherit the Earth . . . on the whole, the ultra-rich are not those I would choose to do so.

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