Greenland's ice sheets are melting away in nearly every sector of the island

Researchers recently conducted a study of the ice sheets covering Greenland. The scientists found that glaciers are retreating in just about every sector of the island. Freshwater rivers beneath the ice are being rerouted as the eye sheet melts.The study was conducted by a team of researchers, including Twila Moon from the National Snow and Ice Data Center, and looked at physical changes to 225 of the ocean-terminating glaciers covering Greenland in detail. The ocean-terminating glaciers are narrow projections of ice flow from the ice sheet interior into the ocean.

Researchers found that none of the glaciers has substantially advanced since 2000, and 200 have shrunk. The image above is a map showing ice velocity across Greenland as measured by orbiting satellites. Data was compiled via the Inter-mission Time Series of Land Ice Velocity and Elevation project combining observations of glaciers collected by multiple Landsat satellites between 1985 and 2015.

All of the data was combined into a single data set viewable by scientists and the public. Ice sheets cover about 80 percent of Greenland at a thickness of up to two miles. Typically as the glaciers flow towards the sea, the ice is replenished by new snowfall. Multiple studies have proven the balance between glacier melting and replenishment from new snowfall is changing. The rate of iceberg calving, or large chunks breaking off from the sheet, is also changing.

Researchers say this is due to rising air and ocean temperatures resulting in the ice sheet losing mass at an accelerated rate and additional meltwater flowing into the sea. Researcher Alex Gardner said the coastal environment of Greenland is undergoing a "major transformation." He says that new sections of the ocean and fjords are opening up as the ice sheet retreats. The changes are impacting Greenland's coastline and altering its coastal ecology.