Greenland Ice Sheet Melt

Greenland Ice Sheet Melt:

Researchers reconstructed the mass balance of the Greenland Ice Sheet by comparing estimates of the amount of ice that has been discharged into the ocean with the accumulation of snowfall in the drainage basins in the country’s interior for the past 46 years. The researchers found that the rate of ice loss has increased sixfold since then — even faster than scientists thought.

Since 1972, ice loss from Greenland alone has added 13.7 millimeters (about half an inch) to the global sea level, the study estimates. The island’s ice sheet is the leading source of water added to the ocean every year. A study published in December that looked at ice core samples found that Greenland’s ice sheets have been melting at an “unprecedented rate” over the past couple decades, about 50% higher than pre-industrial levels and 33% above levels in the 20th century. Greenland’s ice sheets contain enough water to raise global sea levels by 23 feet, research shows.

If this year is any indication, the ice melt trend is sure to continue. The summer melt season has already started in Greenland, according to the National Snow & Ice Data Center — more than a month ahead of schedule. Without serious efforts to curb carbon emissions and slow climate change, ice loss could become a much bigger problem for the country and the world.

Forty percent to 50% of the planet’s population is in cities that are vulnerable to sea rise and is bad news for places like New York, Miami, Los Angeles, Tokyo and Mumbai.

“As glaciers will continue to speed up and ice/snow melt from the top, we can foresee a continuous increase in the rate of mass loss, and a contribution to sea level rise that will continue to increase more rapidly every year.”
~ Eric Rignot, professor of Earth system science at the University of California, Irvine.

Source: CNN & National Academy of Sciences

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