Glacial breakdown

Greenland's Helheim Glacier is shedding ice at a high rate

Big chunks of ice have been falling off Greenland’s Helheim Glacier at an unusually high rate over the past 10 years, a new study finds.

Icebergs from Greenland’s Helheim Glacier feed into Sermilik Fjord (shown here) each summer. Ice has been falling off the glacier at an unusually high rate in the past decade. Camilla S. Andresen

Warm summers and the intrusion of warmer Atlantic waters may be to blame, researchers in Denmark and the United States report online December 12 in Nature Geoscience.

To reconstruct the glacier’s history since 1890, the scientists examined sediments from the fjord below. Sand grains in the sediments revealed that only in the 1930s was the glacier falling apart as quickly as it has been recently.

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