It’s not only warm air that is melting polar glaciers but also warmer oceans, suggest scientists.
According to NASA, Alaska’s Muir Glacier, like many Alaskan glaciers, have retreated and thinned dramatically since the 19th century. The glaciers’ satellite pictures since the 1970s have been studied and it has been found that the ‘accelerating ice changes in places like Alaska, Greenland and Antarctica, where the loss of land-based ice is contributing to global sea level rise’.
Another example is Helheim Glacier which has nearly doubled its speed of melting in the last few years and is gushing through a rift.
The trend analysis of retreating glaciers reveals that forty-six gigatons of ice from Alaskan glaciers was lost on average each year from 2003 to 2010. It has been understood that warming of air due to the Greenhouse Effect of gases pumped into the atmosphere was a primary reason. Recent studies confirm it’s actually a one-two punch: warmer air temperatures coupled with rising sea temperatures.
Scientists are now studying the ocean currents by sending pulses of warmer water from southern latitudes to Greenland’s glaciers in an attempt to figure out which of the two impacts are greatest.