Climate Change Update (23 Jan 2007)

Greg Laden, at his blog, alerts us to another concerning story, this one in last week’s New York Times. As John Collins Rudolf reports, a somewhat unexpected effect of the Greenland ice melting is that new islands are being discovered. Pieces of land thought to be peninsulas turn out to be separate islands once the bridging glacial ice melts, and Arctic explorers have been discovering them by Greenland and Norway. The article states

All over Greenland and the Arctic, rising temperatures are not simply melting ice; they are changing the very geography of coastlines. Nunataks — “lonely mountains” in Inuit — that were encased in the margins of Greenland’s ice sheet are being freed of their age-old bonds, exposing a new chain of islands, and a new opportunity for Arctic explorers to write their names on the landscape.

The article goes on to discuss how this has prompted new editions of maps to be printed and what effects the rising sea levels will have. While discovering new islands is exciting for these explorers, it represents a disturbing trend, and they know it. Dennis Schmitt, discoverer of one of these islands, has provisionally named it Uunartoq Qeqertoq (“the warming island” in Inuit).

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