Ice loss in Greenland may have started as early as the mid-80s


224 glacier calves icebergs from the Greenland Ice Sheet to the ocean. Photo: University of Liverpool

The amount of snow falling on Greenland's glaciers may have been less than the water lost to iceberg calving and melting since at least the mid-1980s, a study of nearly 40 years of satellite imagery has revealed.


The study was conducted by Dominik Fahrner, a Ph.D. student at the Liverpool School of Environmental Science, and involved reviewing more than 20,000 satellite images of more than 200 glaciers and then selecting about 3,800 images for analysis. This analysis showed that some glaciers were losing ice for more than a decade longer than before.


This is one of the first large-scale assessments of such a wide range of glaciers. Previously, it was too time-consuming and time-consuming due to the time fading out to download, process, and analyze them. The study was made possible by cloud computing, which reduced the time to capture these images from 20 minutes per image to about 5 seconds.


All the images used have existed since they were captured-for many, it was decades ago. However, using cloud computing technologies, for the first time it was possible to analyze them over such a long time frame across the entire ice sheet.


The study also showed that taken collectively, iceberg glaciers respond in a relatively simple, linear way in response to climate factors (such as ocean temperature and air temperature). While, when viewed individually, their reactions are complex and non-linear.


These findings will greatly simplify and simplify the behavior model of sea glaciers ending in the group in the future. Previously, the computational complexity of this task and the uncertainty about the model inputs meant that it was impossible to model each glacier to meet a large number of different climate change scenarios.


Mr. Farner's research was made possible by tools developed by his Ph.D., Dr. James Lee. Dr. Lee is the recipient of Future Leaders Fellowship funding from UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) to use cloud computing to better understand iceberg glaciers and ice sheet processes.


The article "The linear response of the tidal water of the Greenland ice sheet to climate change" is published in the Journal of Glaciology.

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