As Greenland’s Ice Melts, Glacial Sand Deposits May Offer a Welcome Economic Opportunity – Columbia Climate School

Greenland’s glaciers grind rock into a fine powder that discolors meltwater and often makes beautiful patterns as it mixes with seawater.(courtesy of NASA Earth Observatory, by Joshua Stevens, using Landsat data from the U.S. Geological Survey. Public Domain).

Greenland’s ice sheet is losing 280 billion tons of mass per year, and some models suggest that its glaciers may be melting up to 100 times faster than expected. But flowing off those glaciers comes a potential economic boom: sand. Each season, millions of tons of sediment flow from melting glaciers into the ocean, adding landmass to the largest island in the world. According to a research paper published in Nature last fall, three out of four Greenlanders support extracting and exporting sand — so long as they’re the ones in charge of managing the resource…

Grains of Sand: Too Much and Never Enough – EOS Magazine

Sand dunes in Kernel - Sydney, Australia (by Bea Pierce CC BY-NC 2.0 via Flickr).

Sand is a foundational element of our cities, our homes, our landscapes and seascapes. How we will interact with the material in the future, however, is less certain…

“The use of sand is now faced with two major challenges,” said Xiaoyang Zhong, a doctoral student in environmental science at Leiden University in the Netherlands. “One is that it has caused enormous consequences in the environment,” he explained. “The second challenge is that easily usable sand resources are running out in many regions…”