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15 juli 2009

Urgent action needed as Arctic ice melts

Greenpeace, July 15, 2009
Arctic ice is melting at an unprecedented rate. As scientists on board the Arctic Sunrise gather more data showing the urgency of the situation, world leaders stay inactive.

For the past two weeks, scientists and crew from the Arctic Sunrise have been busy gathering data, collecting samples and setting up cameras to record the break-up of the Petermann glacier, one of Greenland's largest. A large crack has been forming for the past few years, and a massive piece of the glacier is expected to break off soon.

At 82 degrees North, far from any inhabited area, the impact we have on our environment is sadly evident. The data gathered so far by the on-board scientists is grim. 27 kilometers away from the sea, on the glacier, a large river has formed. The scientists estimate it runs at 50 cubic meters per second - you could fill an Olympic-sized swimming pool in less than a minute at that rate. This river feeds a large and deep melting whirlpool. Measurements there have shown that at around 60 meters depth, the salinity of the water rises - it’s therefore no longer melting ice, but warm oceans currents from further south in the Atlantic are accelerating the ice melt at a rate much faster than on the surface.

(...) Bad news is coming from other sources as well. A recent NASA study has shown that the ice cap is not only getting smaller, it’s getting thinner and younger. Sea ice has dramatically thinned between 2004 and 2008. Old ice (over 2 years old) takes longer to melt, and is also much harder to replace. As permanent ice decreases, we are looking at ice-free summers in the Arctic as early as 2030.

Photo Greenpeace: A lake of melt water on the surface of the Petermann glacier. The surface of the glacier is covered with pools and lakes lake this.

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