If temperatures continue to rise, it is natural to ask how much the planet’s ice masses will be affected. Sealers and whalers at Qaanaaq say that the sea ice is 1 metre (3 feet) thinner today than it was earlier.
East Greenlanders see less ice from the Arctic Ocean than earlier, and both scientists as well as tourist guides report that in certain areas of the country glacier heads are pulling back year after year.
This applies not least to the UNESCO-protected ice fjord near Ilulissat, which has pulled back almost 10 km (6 miles) between 2001 and 2004.
Whether more ice is melting than new ice is being created is the question on which science is concentrating on finding an answer to at the present time.
ARCTIC FRESHWATER RESERVES AT RISK
But recent studies suggest that the balance is negative; Greenland is loosing more ice than it is gaining in other words.
Both scientists and non-specialists are focusing their attention on the 2.85 million km3 (100.600.000.000 million of cubic feet) ice sheet, which in the long term is in danger of melting as a result of continued increases in temperature.
If this happens, the world’s oceans will rise by 6-7 metres (20-23 feet). The horizon for such a scenario is a few hundred or a few thousand years, depending on which researcher you ask.