Greenland: Canary in the Coal Mine // Multimedia

Greenland is the world's largest island. The landmass straddles the Arctic Circle and stretches far north into the planet's highest latitudes. Nine tenths of the island's area is covered by ice, a great sheet of frozen water that reaches over 3000 meters above sea level at its center.

For centuries, this great mass of ice has remained in a state of equilibrium. In the cold, arctic winter, snow falls at the center and the ice sheet gathers mass. As the weather warms in summer and twenty-four hour sunlight heats the ice, great glaciers at the coastal edge push towering icebergs down long fjords and out, into the surrounding ocean.

In the past ten years, this ancient balance has shifted. Warmer air temperatures in the earth's atmosphere, warmer ocean currents moving along the great Greenlandic coast, and more days of summer sun are all heating up the ice. Glaciers are retreating dramatically, pulling away from the coast and inland toward the island's icy center. Many glaciers are also accelerating - pushing more ice, faster and faster, into the sea.

'Canary in the Coal Mine' examines the science that explains the delicate situation in Greenland, and how the ice cap will affect global sea levels in the coming century.

This project was supported by The Purves Environmet Fund.