ICE DISAPPEARING RAPIDLY FROM NORWEGIAN ISLAND INSIDE THE ARCTIC CIRCLE

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23 january 2015

An Arctic ice cap’s shockingly rapid slide into the sea

By Joby Warrick, The Washington Post January 23, 2015

For years, scientists have documented the rapid retreat of Arctic ice, from melting glaciers in Greenland to shrinking snow cover in far northern Eurasia. Now researchers have discovered one Arctic ice cap that appears to be literally sliding into the sea.

Ice is disappearing at a truly astonishing rate in Austfonna, an expanse of frozen rock far north of the Arctic Circle in Norway’s Svalbard island chain. Just since 2012, a portion of the ice cap covering the island has thinned by a whopping 160 feet, according to an analysis of satellite measurements by a team led by researchers at Britain’s University of Leeds.

Put another way, the ice cap’s vertical expanse dropped in two years by a distance equivalent to the height of a 16-story building. As another comparison, consider that scientists were recently alarmed to discover that one of Western Antarctica’s ice sheets was losing vertical height at a rate of 30 feet a year.

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