Ahead of heated discussions concerning climate change, a key Greenland glacier is starting to grow in size once more after years of shrinking. However, NASA warns that this is only a temporary situation.
According to USA Today, the Jakobshavn Glacier situated in Greenland is believed to be growing in size once more. NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory has released details of the glacier’s growth in their new study.
Ala Khazendar, who is the lead author in the study and who works at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, released a statement on the growth pattern of the Jakobshavn Glacier.
“At first we didn’t believe it. We had pretty much assumed that Jakobshavn would just keep going on as it had over the last 20 years.”
As CBS News points out, this growth is staggering considering the glacier lost a massive chunk, considered to be roughly the size of Manhattan, in 2015 thanks to shrinkage.
Jason Box, a Geological Survey of Denmark and Greenland ice and climate scientist who was not a part of the study, was also surprised by the findings.
“That was kind of a surprise. We kind of got used to a runaway system.”
My @ForbesScience to provide proper context on new @NASA findings this week that #Jakobshavn glacier in #Greenland slowed and gained mass. I saw the potential for this to get misrepresented. Mentions @omgnasa and @RogerAPielkeSr https://t.co/mFoPiL4RxE— Marshall Shepherd (@DrShepherd2013) March 26, 2019
Previously, this glacier had been considered a key glacier to observe regarding indications of climate change. Over the last 20 years, the glacier had shown the fastest flowing and thinning rates among observed glaciers. Now, this flow has ebbed and while the glacier is still losing water, it is also considered to be growing in size.
However, NASA experts warn that this is only a temporary occurrence and many believe that it should not be used as an argument against climate change and global warming.
In fact, this phenomenon was likely expected because of a known climate pattern. This pattern sees a “flip between cooler and warmer waters,” according to USA Today. This event can occur within a five- to 20-year cycle.
Josh Willis, principal investigator of NASA’s Oceans Melting Greenland (OMG) mission, believes that this cycle is just a “temporary break” regarding the growth of the Jakobshavn Glacier as waters surrounding the glacier cool for the moment. However, it is expected the glacier will start to recede once more when surrounding waters warm up once more.
“In the long run, the oceans are warming,” Willis said.
“And seeing the oceans have such a huge impact on the glaciers is bad news for Greenland’s ice sheet.”
“The good news is that it’s a reminder that it’s not necessarily going that fast,” said Box. “But it is going.”
The results of NASA’s study were released in the peer-reviewed journal Nature Geoscience.