The earth's crust is rising faster in central Iceland each year, thanks to the accelerated retreat of melting glaciers from global warming, says a new study led by University of Arizona researchers.

The study's significance that for the first time, researchers have been able to link accelerated uplift of the earth's crust with a similar speedup in the loss of glacial ice over the past few decades, said Richard Bennett, a UA associate geosciences professor who worked on the study. One of his graduate students, Kathleen Compton, was the study's lead author. A University of Iceland researcher also worked on the study.

"For some time, now, we've known that the earth's surface has been rebounding in the vicinity of the ice sheet. The question is: does it indicate the ice sheet is retreating at a steady rate or is that ice loss accelerating over time?" Bennett said in a telephone interview this week.

"This paper shows that at least in Iceland, it can't be explained by steady ice loss. It has to be accelerating," said Bennett of the study, which will be published by Geophysical Research Letters. "What we're observing is a climactically induced change in the earth's surface."

This ice loss is important given an already known relationship between ice loss and volcanic activity in Iceland, he said. The study didn't directly address that question. But it raised the possibility that increased glacier ice loss in that country could mean more volcanoes there in the future -- causing global economic impacts.

Read more about this study in Sunday's Star.