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Publication Date
4 December 2013

North Atlantic Warming and the Retreat of Greenland's Outlet Glaciers



Mass loss from the Greenland ice sheet quadrupled over the past two decades, contributing a quarter of the observed global sea-level rise. Increased submarine melting is thought to have triggered the retreat of Greenland's outlet glaciers, which is partly responsible for the ice loss. However, the chain of events and physical processes remain elusive. Recent evidence suggests that an anomalous inflow of subtropical waters driven by atmospheric changes, multidecadal natural ocean variability and a long-term increase in the North Atlantic's upper ocean heat content since the 1950s all contributed to a warming of the subpolar North Atlantic. This led, in conjunction with increased runoff, to enhanced submarine glacier melting. Future climate projections raise the potential for continued increases in warming and ice-mass loss, with implications for sea level and climate.

“North Atlantic Warming And The Retreat Of Greenland's Outlet Glaciers”. 2013. Nature 504: 36-43. doi:10.1038/nature12854.
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