Greenland could start exporting sand in a rare positive spinoff from the global warming, which melts on the island's huge ice and washes large amounts of sediment in the sea, the researchers say.
Quantity of sand and gravel, which is widely used in the construction industry, can increase the economy of Greenland's 56,000 inhabitants, which have large self-regulatory powers in Denmark, but are heavily dependent on subsidies from Copenhagen.
In mining, "Greenland could take advantage of the challenges that accompany climate change", wrote a team of researchers in Denmark and the United States in the journal Nature Sustainability.
Increasing global temperatures melt on the Greenlandic ice, blocking enough water to raise the global sea level by about seven meters if they are thawed.
"You can think of it (melting ice) as a pressure expelling sediment to the coast," says lead author Mette Bendixen, a researcher at the University of Colorado's Institute for Arctic and Alpine Research.
Worldwide demand for sand amounted to about 9.55 billion tonnes in 2017 worth $ 99.5 billion and is expected to reach nearly $ 481 billion in 2100.
"The Arctic people are usually among those who really feel climate change – the erosive coast, less permafrost," Bendixen said.
David Boertmann from Aarhus University, who was not involved in the study, said that there was already some local mining of sand for residential construction.
The study also said that sand and gravel could also be used in the future to strengthen the coastal areas at risk of rising sea levels, partly due to Greenland's thawing.
Originally published as Melting Greenland, sand exports are considered