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In a rare and positive turn with regard to climate change, Greenland could soon start exporting sediments that wash out into the sea as the island's ice sheet melts with rising global temperatures.
In a study published Monday in the journal Nature Sustainability, researchers discuss how the dynamics of the ice flow of the Greenland ice sheet (vast body of ice that covers approximately 80 percent of the country's surface) could affect the sediment production.
"The future acceleration in the glacial flow and the melting of the ice sheet will amplify the supply of sediments from Greenland to the coastal zone", the abstract states of the study, which also added that the world reserves of sand and gravel are slowly depleting , while demand has increased over the years "due to" urban expansion, infrastructure improvements and improved coastal protection in response to climate change. "
The world demand for sand was around 10 billion tons in 2017 and had a market value of $ 99.5 billion. The market value is projected at $ 481 billion in 2100, according to the findings. With an unemployment rate of 10 percent, Greenland has struggled to diversify its economy for years.
"The changing conditions of the Arctic help pave a sustainable path for the country towards economic independence, so that Greenland could benefit from the challenges posed by climate change," the summary adds.
If the entire Greenland ice sheet melted, it could raise the global level of the sea by about seven meters.
"You can think it [the melting ice] like a tap that pours sediment to the coast, "lead author Mette Bendixen, of the Arctic and Alpine Research Institute at the University of Colorado, told Reuters.
Although the extraction of sand and gravel could boost Greenland's economy, the study also notes that the Arctic island should take into account the risks associated with coastal mining.
"For Greenland to benefit from sand mining, we must raise awareness of the resource both locally and globally," Minik Rosing, a professor at the Danish Museum of Natural History at the University of Copenhagen who also participated in the study.
"The people of Greenland must be part of this, Greenland has rigorous resource legislation, and authorities and industry must work together to minimize the possible negative impacts of extraction on the environment."