Business, Economics and Jobs

The 2013 Glacier of the Year


Calved icebergs float on in Qaqortoq, Greenland. Boats are a crucial mode of transportation in the country that has few roads. As vulnerable cities around the world strategize about responding to climate change, many Greenlanders simply do what they’ve always done: adapt.


Joe Raedle

And the GlobalPost 2013 End of the Year Award for Best Glacier goes to: one of the thousands that melted into oblivion this past year in Greenland.

Spoiler alert: This is not a happy tale.

The surface area of Greenland is 80 percent ice. Or it was. Most of that ice is called the Greenland ice sheet, and it's melting. 

Also melting are thousands of "peripheral glaciers" around the main ice sheet, which make up 5 to 7 percent of Greenland's total ice coverage.

To put what looks like a small number in perspective, those glaciers cover an area 50 times greater than that covering the European Alps.

Greenland has lost more than 140 billion metric tons of ice on average annually since 1992.

That’s a mass roughly the size of Mt. Everest plunging into the sea, every year, according to the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute.

Greenland’s total melt raised sea levels by about one-third of an inch over the last two decades — and 20 percent of that is thought to be from stand-alone glaciers.

Were the entire ice sheet to liquefy, it would raise global sea levels by 25 feet, drowning coasts on every continent.


And here's one more terrifying thing: the glaciers are melting fast, losing ice about 2.5 times faster than the ice sheet.

So, that's why they win "Glacier of the Year." Or one of them does. One that no longer exists. Because it melted away. Along with our future.