Greenland's ice melting faster than scientists previously thought

Katie Ramirez
January 25, 2019

Climate change is causing Greenland's massive ice sheets to melt much faster than previously thought and maybe it is "too late" to do anything about it, according to a new study.

The melting ice observed in the study is caused by rising land temperatures, and in part, the fact that the ice comes into contact with waters that are increasingly warmer.

Glaciers here are responsible for pushing enormous iceberg-sized chunks of ice into the Atlantic Ocean, which eventually float away and melt.

For the study published Monday in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, the team found the rate of ice loss had accelerated to almost four times what it was in 2003 by 2012, much of that coming not from glaciers calving into the sea but from large rivers of meltwater from the ice sheet itself.

The blocks of ice then trail off and melt into the Atlantic, contributing to the rise of sea levels.

"Sea-level rise is an area of climate-change research where there are a lot of unknowns. It will accelerate. This means sea-level rise will accelerate", Bevis said.

The scientists found that the ice is disappearing four times faster than it was in 2003 - and a decent lump of that acceleration is happening in southwest Greenland.

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"We knew we had one big problem with increasing rates of ice discharge by some large outlet glaciers".

The outcome of this finding is that south-west Greenland, which had not been considered a serious threat, now looks as if it will become a major future contributor to sea-level rise.

Bevis: Greenland has enough ice to raise sea level by seven meters if all the ice melted. Climate change researchers at The Ohio State University, US, now fear Greenland's ice is melting at rates four-times faster than in 2003.

"Whatever this was, it couldn't be explained by glaciers, because there aren't many there", Michael Bevis, lead author of the paper, Ohio Eminent Scholar and a professor of geodynamics at Ohio State University said in a statement. "It had to be the surface mass - the ice was melting inland from the coastline", PTI quoted Michael Bevis, a professor at The Ohio State University in the USA, as saying. "We are watching the ice sheet hit a tipping point", Bevis said. Also, it's accelerating the ice meltdown in combination with global warming and its consequences on other weather phenomena.

Cities like NY and Miami will bear the brunt of the damage but island nations will be particularly vulnerable to the damage. But the research shows the largest ice loss has actually taken place in a glacier-free part of Greenland. Its ice loss averaged 252 billion tons a year over the past decade. It's because the atmosphere is, at its baseline, warmer. Global warming of the atmosphere increases the rate at which ice is lost in the form of meltwater running into the oceans.

Between year 2002 and 2016 Greenland lost about 280 gigatonnes of ice per year.

Humans are melting the world's ice. Thus, over the 20th century, the sea level rose by 14 centimeters, which is directly related to global warming, without which this figure would be at least two times lower. And furthermore, this effect could not be made, at least partially, even in the case of a stop of global warming will be reversed.

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