Greenland's glaciers have been shrinking for the past century, according to a Danish study, suggesting that the ice melt is not a recent phenomenon caused by global warming.
Danish researchers from Aarhus University studied glaciers on Disko island, in western Greenland in the Atlantic, from the end of the 19th century until the present day.
"This study, which covers 247 of 350 glaciers on Disko, is the most comprehensive ever conducted on the movements of Greenland's glaciers," glaciologist Jacob lement Yde, who carried out the study which was published yesterday with Niels Tvis nudsen, told the agency.
Using maps from the 19th century and current satellite observations, the scientists were able to conclude that "70 per cent of the glaciers have been shrinking regularly since the end of the 1880s at a rate of around eight metres per year," Yde said.
"We studied 95 per cent of the area covered by glaciers in Disko and everything indicates that our results are also valid for the glaciers along the coasts of the rest of Greenland," he said.
The biggest reduction was observed between 1964 and 1985.
"A three-to-four degree increase of the temperature on Greenland from 1920 to 1930, and the increase recorded since 1995 has sped up the ice melt," he said.
The effect of the rising temperatures in the 1920s and 1930s was "visible dozens of years later, and that of the 1990s will be (visible) in 10 or 20 years," Yde said, adding that he expected Greenland's glaciers to melt even faster in the future.