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Researchers in Britain and the United States devised computer models to test three scenarios that could account for rapid -- by the standards applied to glaciers -- loss of mass from the Helheim Glacier, one of Greenland's largest.
Two were based on changes caused directly by global warming: an increase in the amount of water that greases the underbelly of the glacier as it slides toward the sea, and a general thinning due to melting.
By contrast, the third computer model -- which hypothesised that melt-off was triggered by changing conditions in the confined area where the glacier meets the sea -- fit like a glove, he said.