Questions for ‘Greenland’s inland ice is melting far faster than anyone thought’

An aerial photo of the Nioghalvfjerdsfjord glacier

The Nioghalvfjerdsfjord glacier (pictured) is one outlet of the roughly 600-kilometer-long (370-mile-long) Northeast Greenland Ice Stream, which drains ice from the country’s massive ice sheet into the sea.

Guardian_v2/Alamy Stock Photo

To accompany Greenland’s inland ice is melting far faster than anyone thought


Before Reading:

  1. What do you know about glaciers? How do you think glaciers form? In what parts of the world would you be most likely to find a glacier? 
  2. What are some of the impacts caused by global sea-level rise? Do a quick internet search and write down three things you find. Which of these do you find the most concerning? Explain why you feel that way.

During Reading:

  1. By how many millimeters might sea levels rise within 80 years as a result of a melting of the Northeast Greenland Ice Stream? How does this number compare with previous estimates?
  2. What are the names of the two glaciers into which the Northeast Greenland Ice Stream splits?
  3. Explain how the glaciers in this story are similar to a dam holding back water.
  4. According to Jenny Turton, which part of Greenland glaciers have been most studied up until now?
  5. What did Shfaqat Abbas Khan and his team measure using GPS? Describe the distance inland (in kilometers) of the three GPS stations used in this study.
  6. What changes did Khan and his team observe in the ice stream between 2016 and 2019? According to aerial data, in what year do Khan and his team believe this change to the ice stream began?
  7. What did Khan and his team use their new data to “forecast?” Describe their forecast.

After Reading:

  1. Imagine you are chatting with a government official who says, “Don’t worry about climate change because glaciers are melting too slowly to be a problem.” Write a response to this government official persuading them that climate change and glacial melt are important issues. Use data from this story to support your argument.
  2. Besides Greenland, where else in the world is Khan and his team hoping to study glaciers? Besides the far north, think about other regions that may have glaciers. (Hint: Think about places that are high in altitude. Feel free to refer to your answer in Before Reading.) Come up with one specific place where you think the melting of glaciers is likely to be a problem. Explain why you picked this place. What concerns do you have about this place?