This picture is from NASA/JPL. What do you see here? You see stresams of water on the surface of a melting Greenland ice sheet. The streams converge on a moulin which is a shaft or tubular path down which the water pours until it reaches the rock beneath the ice sheet.
A new study of Greenland's ice sheets over the past millenia indicates the current melt and run-off will be much faster than earlier projections. Here's a comment from one Danish scientist working on the study, "In just two-three years the speed of a large ice stream nearly doubled. This means that we have underestimated the rapid changes that may ensue from the amounts of ice leaving the ice each year."
Greenland is now losing more ice each summer than it gains in snow over the following winter. This means rising sea levels as that melt water runs off the island and into the Atlantic. One scientist reports winters now more than 8 degrees Fahrenheit warmer in Arctic Greenland than they were fifteen years ago. There have been predictions from researchers that the polar areas will show more extreme reaction to climate change.
Further south they can begin to joke about the Greenland Riviera. Farming is now replacing fishing and hunting as the best way to make a living. They are proud of their Greenland grown broccoli. All of this is tragic news for the Inuit cultures of northern Greenland, Their traditonal hunting methods and patterns are being destroyed by the retreating ice sheets. There's a telling pair of images of retreating Greenland ice over past two years on this blog.
Good piece on Slate website about the rush to claim land under the Arctic sea using international definitions of continental shelf. I blogged recently about how the laggard U.S. government is now afraid its long refusal to sign treaties will leave it behind in the Arctic land grab. Already European nations, Russia and Canada are staking their claims to continental shelf that has long been beneath impenetrable ice. Less ice and better undersea technology now make oil drilling and mining a possibility. And the opening of the Northwest Passage across the Arctic Sea is going to have major international economic effects. The U.S. Coast Guard has just announced it'll open its first base ever on the North Slope of Alaska as they're expecting ship traffic and all its accompanying issues.