In a paper published on 11 February 2019, Mette Bendixen, Irina Overeem, and their colleagues advocate that Greenland¹s melting ice sheet provides a tremendous source of water and sediment transported to the coast (Bendixen et al. 2019). At the coast, sediments settle out and build out deltas accumulating huge volumes of sand. Previously, the authors showed how massive these fluxes of sediment are, about 9% of the world¹s river sediment is produced in Greenland (Bendixen et al. 2017, Overeem et al. 2017). They project sediment pile-up will only get larger with continuing climate change and ice sheet melt. At the same time, sand is increasingly valued as a scarce resource worldwide. Demand for sand has grown exponentially over the last century it is a key component of urbanization, infrastructure expansion and coastal protection. Bendixen and her coauthors present an analysis that explores whether Greenland as a society can sustainably mine sand and how sand mining could contribute to Greenland¹s economy and independence.
"It is as if these researchers presaged Navigating the New Arctic, one of NSF's 10 Big Ideas," commented Brendan Kelly, SEARCH Executive Director. "Before Navigating the New Arctic was established, Bendixen and coauthors already were investigating connections between the climate change, ice melt, and business opportunities."
Bendixen, M., Overeem, I., Rosing, M. T., Bjørk, A. A., Kjær, K. H., Kroon, A., Zeitz, G., and Iversen, L. L. (2019). Promises and perils of sand exploitation in Greenland. Nature Sustainability, 2(2), 98–104. https://doi.org/10.1038/s41893-018-0218-6
Bendixen, M., Lonsman-Iversen, L., Bjork, A., Elberling, B., Westergaard-Nielsen, A., Overeem, I., Barnhart, K, Khan, S., Box, J., Abermann, J., Langley, K., Kroon, A., 2017. Delta Progradation in Greenland driven by glacial mass loss. Nature 55, 101104.
Overeem, I., Hudson, B., Syvitski, J., Mikkelsen A., Hasholt, B., van der Broeke, M., Noel, B., Morlighem, M., 2017. Substantial export of suspended sediment to the global oceans from glacial erosion in Greenland. Nature Geoscience 10, 85986