Nov 12, 2015

The Secrets in Greenland’s Ice Sheets

Qaasuitsup
Greenland
by
Jon Gertner
,
New York Times
An iceberg from Jakobshavn. Credit Olaf Otto Becker for The New York Times
An iceberg from Jakobshavn. Credit Olaf Otto Becker for The New York Times

Arresting the big problems associated with climate change — punishing droughts, more powerful storms, lethal heat waves — often relates directly to whether human societies can scale back carbon emissions within a reasonable time. But ice sheets are a good example of how rising temperatures can tip natural systems into unknown territory. The warmth leads to repeating loops of cause and effect that can force ice sheets to flow faster, break faster, melt faster. Glaciologists may not be able to decipher the mysteries of ice sheets, to model their behavior and sensitivity, before calamity becomes inevitable.