Copyright ©2014 NPR. For personal, noncommercial use only. See Terms of Use. For other uses, prior permission required.

STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

The glacier that is blamed for producing the iceberg that sunk the Titanic has been pushing much more ice into the ocean over the past two years. NPR's Richard Harris reports on a river of ice that is the fastest-flowing major glacier in the world.

RICHARD HARRIS, BYLINE: The Jakobshavn glacier floats in a narrow valley and has been flowing faster toward the sea for more than a decade. Over the past two summers, scientists have discovered that rate has increased rapidly. That's apparently because the front of the glacier is now sitting in deep water, so there's not much holding it back. As the glacier crumbles into the sea, the ice has been surging forward at the rate of 150 feet per day.

Ian Joughin, at the University of Washington, says this is by far the fastest moving major glacier, but others in Greenland have also picked up the pace.

IAN JOUGHIN: As the glaciers flow faster, they discharge more icebergs to the ocean. And as you pour more ice into the ocean, sea level goes up and the ice sheet goes down. So the fact that this glacier is flowing so much faster means it's actually making a much bigger contribution to sea level.

HARRIS: Over the past decade, the Jakobshavn glacier has added enough water to raise sea level by a millimeter about the thickness of a dime. Add up all the other Greenland glaciers, and the melt rate is currently about three inches a century. But Joughin says that rate is increasing, as the sea and the air around Greenland warm up. His study is published in the journal, The Cryosphere.

Richard Harris, NPR News.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)

INSKEEP: We're glad you're with us on this Public Radio station. It's in your community. It's part of your community, supported by your community. You can continue following MORNING EDITION throughout the day. We're on social media. You can find us on Facebook and many other platforms, including Twitter where we're @morningedition and @nprinskeep.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)

INSKEEP: It's MORNING EDITION from NPR News.

Copyright © 2014 NPR. All rights reserved. No quotes from the materials contained herein may be used in any media without attribution to NPR. This transcript is provided for personal, noncommercial use only, pursuant to our Terms of Use. Any other use requires NPR's prior permission. Visit our permissions page for further information.

NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by a contractor for NPR, and accuracy and availability may vary. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Please be aware that the authoritative record of NPR's programming is the audio.

Comments

 

Please keep your community civil. All comments must follow the NPR.org Community rules and terms of use, and will be moderated prior to posting. NPR reserves the right to use the comments we receive, in whole or in part, and to use the commenter's name and location, in any medium. See also the Terms of Use, Privacy Policy and Community FAQ.

Support comes from: