Growth of Greenland Ice Sheet: Interpretation

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Science  22 Dec 1989:
Vol. 246, Issue 4937, pp. 1589-1591
DOI: 10.1126/science.246.4937.1589


An observed 0.23 m/year thickening of the Greenland ice sheet indicates a 25% to 45% excess ice accumulation over the amount required to balance the outward ice flow. The implied global sea-level depletion is 0.2 to 0.4 mm/year, depending on whether the thickening is only recent (5 to 10 years) or longer term (< 100 years). If there is a similar imbalance in the northern 60% of the ice-sheet area, the depletion is 0.35 to 0.7 mm/year. Increasing ice thickness suggests that the precipitation is higher than the long-term average; higher precipitation may be a characteristic of warmer climates in polar regions.