Greenland’s melting ice has been in the news a lot this week as an alarming new crack has been discovered in the ice, and a new study shows that the Greenland ice sheet is melting at a very worrying rate.

The newly discovered crack is significant because it is farther upstream from the end of glacier than any previously discovered cracks. The farther upstream the crack, along with eventual calving (when a piece breaks off) of the glacier into an ice island, the more unstable it would make the ice sheet.

The study looking at the rate of ice melt, published by the American Geophysical Union in a journal called Geophysical Letters Review, estimates that about 270 gigatons of water per year are melting. That is a lot of melting ice.

Why does this matter? The Greenland ice sheet plays a crucial role globally and locally, as it has enough ice to cause many meters of sea level rise by itself – Greenland is responsible for about one-third of the sea-level rise the Earth is experiencing. Greenland also acts as an important indicator of the state of our climate generally.

Image: Increase in surface melting from Greenland (National Snow and Ice Data Centre).

Read more about the melting rate Greenland’s ice sheet: the guardian.com and about the crack that has recently appeared: cnn.com

Feature Image: Close up of the new crack in the Peterman Glacier. (NASA.com; Gary Hoffman).