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Glacier which used to move 60 feet per year ‘is now moving 60 feet per day’

Rob Waugh
Contributor
NASA

Satellite imagery has captured a rapid change in a remote ice cap in northern Russia – which is moving at a rate that researchers describe as ‘nuts’.

Landsat imagery showed that the Vavilov Ice Cap moved at around 60 feet per year between 1985 and 2013.

Glaciologists say that since that point it has begun moving at up to 60 feet per day.

What makes the find so strange is that it’s a so-called ‘cold based’ glacier, thought to be more resistant to melting, according to IFLScience.

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‘The fact that an apparently stable, cold-based glacier suddenly went from moving 20 meters per year to 20 meters per day was extremely unusual, perhaps unprecedented,’ said University of Colorado Boulder glaciologist Michael Willis.

‘The numbers here are simply nuts. Before this happened, as far as I knew, cold-based glaciers simply didn’t do that…couldn’t do that.

‘If this continues, we could be witnessing the demise of this ice cap.

‘Already, Vavilov has thinned enough that snow has stopped accumulating on its upper reaches, and it is a small ice cap in the first place.’

Nasa wrote: ‘Hundreds of cold-based glaciers line the coasts of Greenland, Antarctica, and islands in the high Arctic. Together they cover hundreds of thousands of square kilometres of land.

‘The events at Vavilov suggest that these glaciers may be less stable and resilient and more capable of collapsing and affecting sea level.’