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World’s Fastest Flowing Glacier Is Greenland Ice River

Update Date: Feb 05, 2014 09:20 AM EST
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A massive glacier in Greenland has become the fastest-flowing glacier in the world, according to a new study. The glacier is also believed to have produced the iceberg that sank the Titanic. 

The Jakobshavn Glacier is moving ice from the Greenland ice sheet into the ocean at the fastest speed, researchers said. 

The dramatic speeds of the glacier were measured in 2012 and 2013 by the researchers at University of Washington and the German Space Agency (DLR). 

"We are now seeing summer speeds more than 4 times what they were in the 1990s on a glacier which at that time was believed to be one of the fastest, if not the fastest, glacier in Greenland," said Ian Joughin, from the University of Washington and lead-author of the study in the press release. 

In the summer of 2012, the speed was recorded to be 17 km per year, which is more than 46 m per day. 

Researchers noted that the summer speeds were temporary and they flowed more slowly in the winter months. However, the annually averaged speedup over the last two years is around three times of it was in the 1990s. 

"We know that from 2000 to 2010 this glacier alone increased sea level by about 1 mm. With the additional speed it likely will contribute a bit more than this over the next decade," said Joughin.

Researchers also noted that even the glacier was flowing towards the coast and was carrying ice into the ocean, the calving front was actually retreating. 

"As the glacier's calving front retreats into deeper regions, it loses ice - the ice in front that is holding back the flow - causing it to speed up," Joughin added.

The research was published in The Cryosphere, a journal of the European Geosciences Union (EGU).

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