Why are Greenland’s glaciers melting? The simple answer is because the Earth is getting warmer. Why is the Earth Getting warmer? That is a subject of much controversy and debate!
Ironically enough, the glaciers in the Arctic Region have been melting for centuries, just at a very slow rate and they also go through periods of regeneration, when snow and ice accumulation is greater than the summer thawing. Glaciers calving are because the ice contracts and expands at different rates and that is due in part to melting! The surface melts, seeps into cracks and the refreezes. When it first refreezes it expands by about 11 % and starts cracks. Those fractures then get expanded by later melts and beautiful bands can sometimes form, but the fractures shed the ice and create glaciers!
Those glaciers then slowly move down mountain sides or along rivers and then eventually out to sea. The smaller mass combined with the increased surface are causes the glaciers to melt even faster (Take a solid block of ice and time how long it takes to melt, then use the same weight of ice, but crush it. The surface area increases the rate of temperature exchange and make the crushed ice melt faster).
What factors could be causing the glaciers of Greenland to melt faster, if they are (recent evidence in the past two years indicate that they may not be)? That is an excellent question. The simple answer is Global Warming. The real question is what is causing Global warming? Is it mankind with all the greenhouse emissions our industry is producing or is it something that naturally occurs?
There has been periods when there were small ice caps or few glaciers on the planet and there have been periods when the earth was virtually covered in ice! No one really knows what caused either the melting or the formation of the ice. Was it solar flare activity? Cosmic dust blocking the sunlight or increased volcanic activity that increased ambient temperature and then the dust blocked the sunlight, increasing reflectivity of the surface and cooling resulted. Also, are these things occurring now?
Mankind is producing a lot of damaging compounds and waste heat, both of those could be melting the glaciers of Greenland. Both could (and should) also be stopped! But glaciers have always been melting and then reforming as part of the balance of nature. It has occurred in the past and will continue into the future!