Scientists found that Iceland’s ice caps are melting at an alarming rate leading to a steady uplift in Earth’s crust in the region that may escalate the local volcanic activity.
In 2010, the violent eruption of Eyjafjallajökull (photo) disrupted all European commercial air flights for nearly a week, resulting in more than $7 billion losses for airline companies and their clients.
A group of scientists from the University of Arizona explained that the land is rising in Iceland as its ice melts because the heavy glaciers do not weigh down the earth they cover anymore. Although the process started back in the 19th Century, the rate at which the land rebounds in Iceland has recently increased to 1.4 inches (35mm) a year.
What we found is that the uplift is increasing. It’s faster and faster everywhere because of the accelerated loss of ice mass,”
study authors said.
Scientists warn that the acceleration in the uplift may boost volcanic activity in the region. Still, past studies weren’t able to tell whether the direct cause of the uplift across the world was related to the glaciers that had melted long ago or the recent climate change.
However, the UA researchers claim that in Iceland all their data point at climate change as the main cause. They collected the data by means of GPS devices attached to rocks across Iceland and computer simulations.
What we’re observing is a climatically induced change in the Earth’s surface,”
They also said that if the melting of ice continues at the current rate, in 10 years time, some regions of Iceland will experience a bounce-back rate of 1.6 inches every year. Additionally, an increase in the uplift rate would lead to even more volcanic activity in the region.
Study authors argued that as the ground bounces-back hot rocks within Earth rise from lower high pressure regions to lower pressure locations closer to the surface. As, they rise they carry into the lower pressure areas an incredible amount of additional heat. The increased temperatures trigger the melting process of the rocks which transform into large quantities of magma that feed the volcano systems.
Richard Bennett, lead author of the research and Professor of Geosciences at the University of Arizona, said that a similar process occurred in Iceland 12,000 years ago leading to a thirty-folded boost in volcanic activity on the island.
Also, between August and October 2014, Bardarbunga, a volcano in central Iceland, released more sulfur dioxide than any of the island’s volcanoes in the past several centuries. And it doesn’t seem to eager to calm down, volcanologists in Iceland report.
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