Iceland is rising because of climate change, with land freed by the melting of the ice caps rebounding from the earth at a rate of up to 3.5cm per year.
The downside? Researchers believe the extra uplift could be behind an increase in volcanic activity, with three Icelandic eruptions in the last five years shutting down flights and spewing ash in the air.
In new research published in Geophysical Research Letters, scientists from the University of Arizona and the University of Iceland found that the earth’s crust was rising at a much faster rate amid the greater warming of the last 30 years.
At some sites in south and south-central Iceland, where five of the largest ice caps are located, ice loss resulting from that warming produced an uplift of 3.5cm per year, the researchers said.
A road closure to the Vattnajokull glacier the site of the Bardarbunga volcano under the Dyngjujokull ice cap in Iceland on August 24, 2014. Photo: EPA
Researchers have known for some time that land freed from the weight of ice sheets tends to rise. But they did not anticipate just how swiftly the bounce in Iceland was occurring.
“It’s similar to putting weights on a trampoline. If you take the weights off, the trampoline will bounce right back up to its original flat shape,” said Richard Bennett, a geologist at the University of Arizona and one of the authors of the new research.
The bigger bounce was due to increased warming over the last 30 years, the study found.
“What we found is that the uplift is increasing. It’s faster and faster everywhere because of the accelerated loss of ice mass,” said Bennett. The researchers relied on 62 GPS devices, deployed on rocks throughout Iceland, to track the changes in position. Some of the GPS receivers had been in position since 1995.
The danger is that increased melting and uplift could lead to a further uptick in volcanic activity. Iceland has experienced three eruptions in the last five years. When Eyjafjallajökull blew in 2010, flights across Europe were disrupted for a week.
The entire chain reaction of melting ice caps, rising earth surface and volcanic activity is still not entirely understood, Bennett said. But as the surface of the earth rises, so do rocks at depth, released from pressure of the ice.
“They transport the heat like a hot potato as they move from high pressure to lower pressure and enter into conditions that promote melting,” Bennett said. And that creates conditions that are ripe for eruptions.
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Start of my commentary – 3.5 cm per year. Really? The way they are talking about a “bigger bounce” it should be more than 3.5 cm…. Think about it. just take a moment and think about it.
How big is the Earth – circumference of the earth is 40,075 km that is kilometers. One kilometer is a thousand, hundred centimeters I think – Whatever (give me feet and inches any day ) I think the earth can expand easily to cover 3.5 cm
How old is the earth millions and billions of years, How many Ice ages have come and gone covering most of the norther hemispheres. The ice came over the land, it went down and the ice went away and the earth came back up. Still here, nothing happened.
I think there are more important things to study and worry about…
By the way volcanoes explode all the time, these may interrupt flight paths. It is OK, the sky is pretty big and the planes can fly around or over.
Give me a break!
Thanks for reading my comments;
Bro Bo in Hawaii