Greenland’s icecap melting faster than thought

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The full article was originally written for SwissInfo

The Greenland ice sheet, thought to act as a sponge for glacier meltwater, could be losing its ability to act as a buffer to rising sea levels, international and Swiss scientists have found.

Researchers from Denmark, the United States and the University of Zurich travelled to Greenland to investigate the impact of recent atmospheric warming on the structure of near-surface snow and ice layers, known as firn. This layer can be up to 80 metres thick in places.

They found that the meltwater is being released faster than previously anticipated. “Basically our research shows that the firn reacts fast to a changing climate. Its ability to limit mass loss of the ice sheet by retaining meltwater could be smaller than previously assumed,” said Horst Machguth, lead author of the study by the University of Zurich, in a statement.

The results have been published in the January 4 edition of the journalNature Climate Change.

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Greenland’s icecap melting faster than thought