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Climate specialists raise concern about flourishing vegetation on Greenland's ice sheet.
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Climate specialists raise concern about flourishing vegetation on Greenland’s ice sheet.

Parts of Greenland’s melted ice sheet are currently creating plants, which could lead to higher levels of greenhouse gases, the sea levels rising, and the landscape becoming more unstable.

Research has recorded the shift that has occurred since the 1980s, which reveals that extensive ice coverage has been replaced by desolate land, marshes, and an increase in shrubbery, resulting in a transformation of the ecosystem.

Recent satellite data has revealed that approximately 11,000 square miles of Greenland’s ice sheet and glaciers have melted in the last 30 years. This area is comparable to the size of Albania and makes up about 1.6% of the entire ice coverage.

Since the melting of ice has occurred, the expanse of land with plant life has expanded by 33,774 square miles, a growth of over double the initial coverage at the start of the research.

The research reveals a significant increase in wetlands throughout Greenland, which contribute to methane emissions.

Melting Greenland ice sheet

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The largest growth of thick, marshy plants was observed near Kangerlussuaq in the southwestern region and in scattered locations in the northeastern region.

According to scientists, rising air temperatures are melting the ice and the region has experienced twice the global average rate of warming since the 1970s. In Greenland, the average annual air temperatures from 2007 to 2012 were 3 degrees Celsius warmer than the average from 1979 to 2000.

Based on the data, there are indications that the growing vegetation is contributing to more melting of ice.

According to the research published in Scientific Reports, Jonathan Carrivick, a geoscientist from the University of Leeds and co-author of the study, explained that the melting ice in Greenland is causing a chain reaction leading to more ice loss and an increase in vegetation growth on exposed rock surfaces.

Simultaneously, as ice melts, water is carrying sediment and silt, which eventually results in the creation of wetlands and fenlands.

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“The growth of plants, happening at the same time as the shrinking of glaciers and the ice sheet, is having a major impact on the movement of sediment and nutrients into coastal waters,” stated Dr. Michael Grimes, the primary writer of the study.

“These modifications are crucial, especially for Indigenous communities whose traditional hunting methods depend on the sustainability of these fragile ecosystems. Additionally, the decrease in ice volume in Greenland is a significant factor in the rising sea levels worldwide, which presents significant difficulties currently and in the long term.”

The scientists have utilized their discoveries to create a framework for forecasting the regions in Greenland that will potentially undergo significant and rapid changes in the coming years, in order to maintain ongoing monitoring efforts.

Source: theguardian.com