Greenland Ice Sheet

The Greenland ice sheet (Kalaallisut: Sermersuaq) is a vast body of ice covering 1,710,000 square kilometres (660,235 sq mi), roughly 80% of the surface of Greenland. It is the second largest ice body in the world, after the Antarctic Ice Sheet. The ice sheet is almost 2,400 kilometres (1,500 mi) long in a north-south direction, and its greatest width is 1,100 kilometres (680 mi) at a latitude of 77°N, near its northern margin. The mean altitude of the ice is 2,135 metres (7,005 ft). The thickness is generally more than 2 km (1.24 mi) and over 3 km (1.86 mi) at its thickest point. It is not the only ice mass of Greenland – isolated glaciers and small ice caps cover between 76,000 and 100,000 square kilometres (29,344 and 38,610 sq mi) around the periphery. Some scientists predict that climate change may be near a "tipping point" where the entire ice sheet will melt in about 2000 years. If the entire 2,850,000 cubic kilometres (683,751 cu mi) of ice were to melt, it would lead to a global sea level rise of 7.2 m (23.6 ft).

The Greenland Ice Sheet is also sometimes referred to under the term inland ice, or its Danish equivalent, indlandsis. It is also sometimes referred to as an ice cap. "Ice sheet" is considered the more correct term, as "ice cap" generally refers to less extensive ice masses.

The ice in the current ice sheet is as old as 110,000 years. The presence of ice-rafted sediments in deep-sea cores recovered off of northeast Greenland, in the Fram Strait, and south of Greenland indicated the more or less continuous presence of either an ice sheet or ice sheets covering significant parts of Greenland for the last 18 million years. From just before 11 million years ago to a little after 10 million years ago, the Greenland Ice Sheet appears to have been greatly reduced in size. The Greenland Ice Sheet formed in the middle Miocene by coalescence of ice caps and glaciers. There was an intensification of glaciation during the Late Pliocene.

The weight of the ice has depressed the central area of Greenland; the bedrock surface is near sea level over most of the interior of Greenland, but mountains occur around the periphery, confining the sheet along its margins. If the ice disappeared, Greenland would most probably appear as an archipelago, at least until isostasy lifted the land surface above sea level once again. The ice surface reaches its greatest altitude on two north-south elongated domes, or ridges. The southern dome reaches almost 3,000 metres (9,843 ft) at latitudes 63°–65°N; the northern dome reaches about 3,290 metres (10,794 ft) at about latitude 72°N. The crests of both domes are displaced east of the centre line of Greenland. The unconfined ice sheet does not reach the sea along a broad front anywhere in Greenland, so that no large ice shelves occur. The ice margin just reaches the sea, however, in a region of irregular topography in the area of Melville Bay southeast of Thule. Large outlet glaciers, which are restricted tongues of the ice sheet, move through bordering valleys around the periphery of Greenland to calve off into the ocean, producing the numerous icebergs that sometimes occur in North Atlantic shipping lanes. The best known of these outlet glaciers is Jakobshavn Isbræ (Kalaallisut: Sermeq Kujalleq), which, at its terminus, flows at speeds of 20 to 22 metres or 65.6 to 72.2 feet per day.

On the ice sheet, temperatures are generally substantially lower than elsewhere in Greenland. The lowest mean annual temperatures, about −31 °C (−23.8 °F), occur on the north-central part of the north dome, and temperatures at the crest of the south dome are about −20 °C (−4 °F).

During winter, the ice sheet takes on a clear blue/green color. During summer, the top layer of ice melts leaving pockets of air in the ice that makes it look white.

Read more about Greenland Ice SheetThe Ice Sheet As A Record of Past Climates, The Melting Ice Sheet, Ice Sheet Acceleration, Increased Precipitation, Rate of Change

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... The 'Greenland ice sheet' (Kalaallisut Sermersuaq) is a vast body of ice covering 1.71 million km2, roughly 80% of the surface of Greenland ... It is the second largest ice body in the World, after the Antarctic Ice Sheet ... The ice sheet is almost 2,400 kilometers long in a north-south direction, and its greatest width is 1,100 kilometers at a latitude of 77°N, near its ...
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Famous quotes containing the words sheet, greenland and/or ice:

    No Time, spoke the clocks, no God, rang the bells,
    I drew the white sheet over the islands
    And the coins on my eyelids sang like shells.
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    I was the toast of two continents: Greenland and Australia.
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    Suddenly I saw the cold and rook-delighting heaven
    That seemed as though ice burned and was but the more ice,
    William Butler Yeats (1865–1939)