A new NASA study finds that during Greenland's hottest summers on record, 2010 and 2012, the ice in Rink Glacier on the island's west coast didn't just melt faster than usual, it slid through the glacier's interior in a gigantic wave, like a warmed freezer pop sliding out of its plastic casing. The wave persisted for four months, with ice from upstream continuing to move down to replace the missing mass for at least four more months.
This long pulse of mass loss, called a solitary wave, is a new discovery that may increase the potential for sustained ice loss in Greenland as the climate continues to warm, with implications for the future rate of sea level rise.
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Image: Rink Glacier in western Greenland, with a meltwater lake visible center. Credit: NASA/OIB.
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