London: A British research team studying the Greenland ice sheet has discovered evidence of a rapidly accelerating rate of melt.
Sky News quoted Dr Alun Hubbard, who is leading a team from the universities of Swansea and Aberystwyth, as saying that the ice sheet in their region had lowered six metres in just a month.
He added that the phenomenon is caused by surface melt, a vicious cycle in which melted ice brings about further thawing of the cap beneath it.
Frozen ice has an ‘albedo’, or reflectivity, of around 80 percent, whereas open water reflects only around 20 percent of the sun`s rays.
Sky News filed the report after receiving information from a team that it had flown to their base on the inland ice, near to the town of Kangerlussuaq.
Greenland`s ice sheet holds 10 percent of the world`s freshwater reserves - at its centre it is more than three kilometers thick. Its rate of reduction has tripled in the last ten years.
Dr Hubbard`s team has been doing seismic testing - dropping explosive charges beneath the ice to try to map the dynamics below.
The research has been partly funded by the British-based Royal Geographical Society.
The question now is what`s causing these extreme events, and whether it is symptomatic of a more broadly changing climate. The Arctic is said to be an early learning system for the rest of the world - it`s message this year has been emphatic.