Greenland's ice: beauty and threat

By the Associated Press | August 14, 2011 | 12:14 PM EDT

In this July 19, 2011 photo, pools of melted ice form atop Jakobshavn Glacier, near the edge of the vast Greenland ice sheet. Greenland is the focus of many researchers trying to determine how much its melting ice may raise sea levels. (AP Photo/Brennan Linsley)

ILULISSAT, Greenland (AP) — Greenland's Inuit people have countless terms to describe ice in all its varieties. This gallery of photographs by Brennan Linsley of The Associated Press is something of a visual vocabulary for the striking forms ice takes on the giant Arctic island.

Greenland's ice sheet and glaciers are melting more and more as the world warms, sending gushing water and towering icebergs into the sea, threatening to raise ocean levels worldwide in the years and decades to come. Researchers are hard at work trying to gauge how much will melt and when.

Some of the most spectacular icebergs are calved from the 6-kilometer-wide (4-mile-wide) Jakobshavn Glacier near the town of Ilulissat on Greenland's west central coast. These icebergs push out into the 50-kilometer-long (30-mile-long) Ilulissat Ice Fjord, and then into Disko Bay and eventually the North Atlantic ocean.

The ice, much of it tens of thousands of years old, originates in the 1.7-million-square-kilometer (660,000-square-mile) ice sheet covering 80 percent of Greenland.