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Iceland Mag

Nature

Icelandic glaciers have shrunk by 200 cubic kilometers since 1995

By Staff

  • Sólheimajökull glacier One of the outlet glaciers of Vatnajökull glacier has retreated dramatically in recent decades. Photo/Earthvision Institute.

New measurements of the changes in the earth's gravity field around Iceland shows that Icelandic glaciers have shrunk by 200 cubic kilometers since 1995. The satellite measurements are made by a joint German-US project which is measuring changes to the ice sheets of the polar regions. The findings are published in the Geophysical Journal International.

Read more: New aerial photographs show that Icelandic glaciers are rapidly retreating

The new measurements are made by a program called GRACE, which is a joint German-US project which uses satellites to measure minute differences in the earth's gravitational field. Changes in the mass of glaciers and ice sheets changes causes changes to the Earth's gravity field.

As the glaciers of Iceland have shrunk the changes to the earth's gravity near Iceland that are detected by sensitive instruments on board of the German/American GRACE satellites.

Read more: Only 3% of Icelanders deny humans are responsible for global climate change

The measurements obtained by the GRACE satellites shows that the glaciers of Iceland have shrunk on average by 11.4 +/- 2.2 cubic kilometers every year between 2003 and 2010. This confirms the results of more traditional measurements conducted by the University of Iceland and the Icelandic Meteorological Office show that the glaciers have shrunk steadily since 1995, by 10 cubic kilometers on average each year. 

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