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Netherlands Polar Data Center

Project - Continuation of climate monitoring along the K-transect, west Greenland

Summary

Arctic glaciers, ice caps and ice sheets are melting at an alarming rate. Especially notable is the demise of the Greenland ice sheet (GrIS), which contributes 20-30% to current global sea level rise and lost an estimated 500 Gt of ice in the warm summer of 2010 alone (1 Gt equals 1 km3 of water). GrIS mass loss is partly caused by the post-1990 acceleration and rapid thinning of fast-flowing outlet glaciers, a phenomenon that has attracted worldwide attention from scientists, the general public and media alike. Nonetheless, 'ordinary' surface melt and subsequent meltwater runoff dominate the current mass loss from the GrIS, and will continue to do so far into the future, when the ice sheet retreats onto land and loses contact with the ocean. Moreover, recent observations revealed an intricate connection between surface meltwater production and the basal sliding of land-terminating parts of the GrIS through the formation and collapse of a sub-glacial channel network. Dedicated in situ observation of these processes are indispensible to develop, evaluate and improve atmospheric, ice dynamical and hydrological models that are capable to predict the future evolution of the GrIS. Here we request budget to continue observations of mass balance, climate, ice velocity and basal water pressure along the K-transect in west Greenland until 2016, and to homogenize the existing time series. Started in 1990, this is the longest uninterrupted time series of its kind in Greenland, and serves as a benchmark for meteorological, glaciological and hydrological models worldwide.

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