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Greenland glacier hits record speeds

Photo by NASA Goddard Photo and Video The calving front of the Jakobshavn Glacier in western Greenland, as seen from NASA’s P-3B aircraft on April 21, 2012. Photo by NASA Goddard Photo and Video

Traveling just over 6 mph would hardly break any speed record. But for a glacier, it is a pace that is considered unprecedented.

In fact, the most recent summer speed of Greenland’s Jakobshavn Glacier, according to a new study published by The Cryosphere, has more than quadrupled its summer speed since the 1990s. The study claims that the glacier, which is believed to have spawned the iceberg that sunk the Titanic, set speed records faster than any previously recorded for glaciers or ice streams in both Greenland or Antarctica.

The increase in speed means that more ice is being added to the ocean at a quicker pace, which contributes to a rise in the global sea level. From 2000 to 2011, the Jakobshavn Glacier alone has contributed a sea level increase of about 0.04 inches.

The study says that though the average speedup over the past several years increased within factors of three, researchers estimate the speed can rise by more than 10 times the average within a few decades.

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