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  •  Large Moulins in Greenland causing an Alarm (7+ / 0-)

    I came across this story while checking the weather yesterday.  It scares the crap out of me, since this is the biggest unknown when it comes to the melting Greenland ice sheet.

    A moulin is the name for a giant hole in a glacier in which millions of gallons of melt water can cascade through to the rocky surface underneath the glacier during the melt season.

    Why am I bringing this up now? Well, on a recent trip to Greenland a group of scientists and journalists were alarmed at the size and number of these moulins that they saw on the Greenland ice cap. Some of the moulins in Greenland run on the scale of Niagra Falls and are helping the glaciers to move at three times the rate that they did previously.

    Scientists say the acceleration of melting and subsequent speeding up of giant glaciers could be catastrophic in terms of sea level rise and make previous predictions published this year by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) far too low, according to the article from AlterNet, which is a progressive news website.

    Professor Robert Correll, chairman of the Arctic Climate Impact Assessment said that newly invented ice penetrating radar showed that the melt water was pouring through to the bottom of the glacier creating a melt water lake 500 metres deep causing the glacier "to float on land. "These melt water rivers are lubricating the glacier, like applying oil to a surface and causing it to slide into the sea. It is causing a massive acceleration which could be catastrophic." Correll stated that one particular glacier puts enough fresh water into the sea in one day to provide drinking water for a city the size of New York for a year.

    Correll believes that the estimates of a 20 to 60 centimeter sea level rise this century from the IPCC report in February had been "conservative" and feels that it would be at the upper end of this range at a minimum. Some scientists fear that number could be 2 metres (200 centimeters), which would obviously have catastrophic effects for European and U.S. coastlines.

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