The NYT reports that previously unknown islands are appearing off the coast of Greenland as glaciers and iceshelves retreat.
Explorer Dennis Schmitt discovered in September that what had been thought to be a small peninsula — visible here on Google Maps — is now surrounded by open water.
A few details about the new island:
- Name: informally, Uunartoq Qeqertoq (“warming island”)
- Location: central coast of eastern Greenland, at 71 degrees 29′ north, 21 degrees 52′ west
- Area: roughly 9 sq miles / 23 sq km
- Height: roughly 2000 feet, judging by surrounding terrain
- Discovery: September 2005
Islands emerging from the ice are becomeing more common, according to John Collins Rudolf, the NYT reporter.
- A Danish cartographer “spotted several new islands in an area where a massive ice shelf had broken up.”
- A glacier scientist found that a former nunatak — an isolated mountain surrounded by glacier — now was 10 km out to sea from the ice.
- Another explorer found an emergent island off Svalbard in August 2006.
Rudolf also notes that this accelerated melting is unexpected, and could result in faster sea level rise. A geoscientist suggests that it might add a foot or two to sea level, threatening low-lying islands.
It could get worse. Rudolf writes, “Over the long term, much larger sea-level rises would render the world’s coastlines unrecognizable, creating a whole new series of islands.”