Study Finds Pace of Arctic Melting Increasing North of Scandinavia
Image credit:Jason Roberts, BBC-Cracked surface: The largest ice cap in the Eurasian Arctic – Austfonna in Svalbard.
A recent technical study reported that glaciers at the Austfonna ice cap , located within the arctic circle north of Scandinavia, appear to have come “ungrounded”, flowing out to sea at a “rapid pace” and draining ice from the ice cap in the process. The study reports the Austfonna ice cap is now thinning by an average of 25 meters per year.
The waters of the Arctic Ocean are known to have warmed at a rapid pace relative to the rest of the world over recent years, and 2012 in particular was a year of “exceptional melting” and warmth in the arctic due to extreme storms. The study concludes “the sudden glacial movement suggests that the warming in 2012 destabilized glaciers in the surrounding territory and [that] it is happening at an exceptionally rapid pace”.
There has been widespread ice loss to the Arctic Ocean and “the melting is creating the potential for future instability if further ungrounding occurs”.
“Across Austfonna, there is a coherent pattern of ice margin thinning at all marine-based sectors [and] the behavior recorded here demonstrates that slow-flowing ice caps can enter states of significant imbalance over very short timescales and highlights their capacity for increased ice loss in the future.”