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Greenland glacier retreats 10 kilometres in six years

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Greenland's Helheim Glacier has melted 10 kilometres over the last six years.
Greenland's Helheim Glacier has melted 10 kilometres over the last six years. -
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Just inside the Arctic Circle — stood on ice that is thousands of years old — David Holland has a first-hand view of what he sees as the beginning of the end of the world.

An air and ocean scientist from New York University, Holland is using high-tech equipment to monitor Helheim, one of Greenland's fastest-melting glaciers.

The glacier, which has retreated 10 kilometres in six years, and the land around it has witnessed record temperatures over the past year.

A nearby research camp, Summit Station, warmed above freezing twice in 2019 for a total of 16.5 hours. Other than 2012, when it did so for 6.5 hours, the last time it was above zero was 1889.

Greenland's ice sheet has lost 255 billion metric tons of ice a year between 2003 and 2016, and on August 1, the territory experienced its biggest single-day loss of ice.

Holland hopes that his research will persuade world leaders at the G7 this weekend in Biarritz to start taking climate change seriously.

"For our part, on the ice sheet, we are finding change, both in the north and the south," he said.

"So we are trying to bring the scientific evidence to bear on the problem and hopefully can use that evidence and make sensible policies, sensible decisions."

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