Sunday, May 30, 2010

Greenland and Global Warming

Someone like me, who is obsessed with his own little world and its vicissitudes, hardly finds time to explore what lies beyond his little world. But when I do, the feeling that comes with this newly acquired knowledge is of unadulterated satisfaction, achievement and amazement. At such times, I feel that vastness of this planet earth is beyond comprehension by a mere mortal and all that I can do is to explore it and admire it. One such moment of exploration happened on this weekend - courtesy National Geographic magazine. I read two wonderful articles about Greenland and impact of global warming on its geography, economy and future. I would like to share some of the most fascinating aspects from those articles:

1. Greenland, the largest island on planet earth (except continents), has some 80% of its land buried under ice sheets which can go as deep as 2 miles. It is one of the world's least densely populated nations. It is largely dependent on other nations for even the most of basic resources like fodder for sheep and wood for buildings. Its economy is largely dependent on sea food exports, which are not consistent enough due to unpredictable weather conditions. Greenland also attracts its share of tourists but numbers are not very high, owning to lack of proper conditions for stay and costly travel expenses. Fjords, that dissect the land and pop up many small streams, make it impossible to travel by land.

2. Although Greenland is an autonomous country but it is still considered as a part of Kingdom of Denmark, which controls its foreign policy and pumps hefty amount of money to help the anemic economy of Greenland.

3. Greenland has always been a hot spot for many glaciologists, who want to study Global warming in action. Increase in pollution in other areas has adversely affected the melting patterns of ice in Greenland. In general, ice has a tendency to reflect most of the light that falls on it. Its albedo is high. But with air containing all kinds of impure particles, volcanic ashes and by products of industrialization, the ice that is melting turns black in color. Resulting tar like liquid, also called cryoconite, has lesser albedo and absorbs higher amount of heat, which in turn melts more ice and sets off a chain reaction. If all Greenland ice melts sea level will rise will inundate coastlines around the planet.

4. Another interesting aspect of Global Warming on Greenlandic ice is formation of superaglacial lakes. These lakes, formed by rise in temperature around the region, vary in composition and size. While it may take days for a small pond to acquire the status of a lake, it generally takes only a few hours for a lake to be sucked by a Moulin - a vertical hollow shaft in sheets of ice. In 2006, a team of glaciologists documented the draining of a two-square-mile lake into a Moulin, where 11 billion gallons of water disappeared in just 84 minutes.

- Courtesy National Geographic - June 2010 issue.

I hope the reader enjoyed the information as much as i did. For more, get hold of the main source. Cheers!!


Suneetinder Singh Walia said...

this one is full of info!
Have you ever thought of documentary movie making??
Think about it now!
looking forward to reading more.

Tarun Gupta said...

Hmm.. I never thought about being a documentary movie maker. But the way things have been going with me, you never know where I'll end up.. Never the less, the idea is worth a good deep thought :)