In the midst of global climate concerns, Greenland adds an unexpected twist to the story. Recent findings from the Technical University of Denmark (DTU) reveal a surprising phenomenon – Greenland’s bedrock isn’t just rising; it’s doing so at an accelerated pace, showing an increase of up to 20 cm in the last ten years (2013-2023).
This amounts to an impressive uplift of an estimated 2 meters per century, surpassing Greenland’s current sea level rise. The driving force behind this uplift is the melting of Greenland’s ice sheet. As the ice melts, the pressure on the bedrock decreases, allowing the land to rise.
Lead researcher Danjal Longfors Berg, a Ph.D. student at DTU Space, highlights the significance of these uplifts, noting, “These are quite substantial land uplifts that we can now demonstrate. They indicate that local changes in Greenland are happening very rapidly, impacting life in Greenland.”
Beyond its impact on the local ecosystem, this uplift is reshaping Greenland’s physical landscape, leading to the emergence of new landforms such as small islands and skerries.
The study relies on data from GNET, a network of 61 measurement stations along Greenland’s coasts. GNET, using GNSS technology, including GPS, plays a crucial role in monitoring ice melt and land uplift with millimeter precision. Morten Hvidberg, Vice Director of the Agency for Data Supply and Infrastructure, emphasizes GNET’s significance, describing it as “a fundamental geodetic infrastructure” enabling precise monitoring of climate changes.
Unlike the typical post-ice age recovery process, Greenland’s recent acceleration in uplift rates is linked to the increased melting of the ice sheet, a direct consequence of global warming. Professor Shfaqat Abbas Khan, a co-author of the study, stresses that “the land uplift we observe in Greenland these years cannot be solely explained by the natural post-ice age development.”
This research sheds light on Greenland’s unique geological response to climate change, highlighting the unexpected uplift of the bedrock due to ice sheet melting. This phenomenon, defying the global trend of rising sea levels, underscores the intricate and localized impacts of climate change, challenging our understanding of its global effects.
By utilizing precise data from the GNET network, the study provides valuable insights into the swift changes occurring in Greenland. It underscores the critical role of advanced monitoring technologies in unraveling the complex dynamics of environmental changes. As Greenland continues to rise above the threat of rising sea levels, this research serves as a crucial reminder of the ongoing need for observation and study to fully comprehend our ever-changing planet.