A new study reveals that ice loss from Canada’s Arctic glaciers has affected sea levels. According to the researchers at the University of California, Irvine, when these glaciers melt, they significantly increase sea levels.
In their study published in the journal Environmental Research Letters, they state that when the glaciers, as well as ice caps of the Queen Elizabeth Islands, melted from 2005 to 2015, sea level rose up to 900 percent. In other words, sea level is normally only three tons each year but due to the melting of ice, this level increased up to 30 gigatons each year.
“In the past decade, as air temperatures have warmed, a surface melt has increased dramatically,” pointed out the study’s lead author Romain Millan, an Earth system science doctoral student. Moreover, the research team also found out that the total ice mass has declined greatly in the past decade. The study, which gives us the first long-term analysis of ice flow to the ocean from 1991 to 2015, reveals that this trait made the Canada glaciers a great contributor to sea level.
Overall, the experts say that Canada holds a total of 25 percent of all Arctic ice. This is only second to Greenland. The researchers say that the Canadian ice cap has glaciers moving into the Arctic Ocean, Nares Strait and the Baffin Bay. The study involved employing satellite data as well as a regional climate model to determine the overall gain and loss of ice per year.
This also helped the team determine the causes behind the melting of the glaciers. They believe that the primary cause could be tide water hitting the glacier, thereby melting the glaciers and discharging meltwater into the sea.
Previously, until 2005, experts believe that the ice loss was caused by two reasons. One is calving icebergs from glacier fronts into the ocean, which was responsible for 52 percent of the melting of the ice. The melting of glacier surfaces exposed to air also accounted for 48 percent. However, experts have determined that surface melt is now responsible for 90 percent of this since atmospheric temperatures have increased steadily.
Millan also pointed out that they have also determined that meltwater runoff is also a big contributor to the massive loss of ice fields in the past years. They also believe that the huge loss of the Queen Elizabeth Islands would remain and increase greatly in the future as the temperature in the Arctic is rapidly warming.