Friday, 22 February, 2019


Greenland Ice Melting Four Times Faster Than Expected

Bevis says the real worry now is 'just how much worse' the melting could get Bevis says the real worry now is 'just how much worse' the melting could get
Kristine Garrett | 25 January, 2019, 16:11

It's the same story for western North America's glaciers where ice loss quadrupled since the early 2000s to 12.3 billion tons annually, a recent study revealed. This time, it's Greenland.

Greenland's melting ice, which causes sea levels to rise, disappeared four times faster in 2013 than in 2003 and is noticeable across the Arctic island, not just on glaciers, researchers warned on Tuesday.

Bevis likened the melting of Greenland's ice to coral bleaching: Once the ocean's water hits a certain temperature, coral in that region begins to bleach.

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.

"Whatever this was, it couldn't be explained by glaciers, because there are not many there".

Michael Bevis, professor of geodynamics and lead author of Ohio State University's report, claimed humankind might even have passed the point of no return in its quest to combat climate change. In spite of the fact that ice sheets are still the significant contributor to sea-level rise, the researchers foresee that it's increasing, melting in southwest Greenland will become a major player in the future.

"But now we recognise a second serious problem: Increasingly, large amounts of ice mass are going to leave as meltwater, as rivers that flow into the sea", Bevis said.

Coastal areas are particularly vulnerable to rising sea levels, so this research amplifies the risk to Pacific island nations and populated areas like Shanghai, Rio de Janeiro and Osaka.

"The only thing we can do is adapt and mitigate further global warming - it's too late for there to be no effect", Bevis said, adding "we are watching the ice sheet hit a tipping point". More importantly, though, the warning concludes that faster sea level rise is inevitable without intervention.

Data collected by NASA's twin Gravity Recovery and Climate Experiment (GRACE) suggests Greenland lost an approximate 280 gigatons of water a year between 2002 and 2016.

However, the rate of ice loss across the island was far from steady.

Summertime temperatures in Greenland are affecting parts of the country that were previously thought stable, and the North Atlantic Oscillation has given that extra shove, causing large areas of ice to melt.

Until now, most of Greenland's ice melt was observed on the ice cap, predominantly on the glaciers in the island's northwest and southeast.

The study also established a link between the fast Greenland ice meltdown and the weather phenomenon called the North Atlantic Oscillation.

If all of Greenland's vast ice sheet was to melt, global sea levels would rise by seven metres.

In any case, since the southwest part of the ice sheet is without glaciers, the melting must be happening by means of another mechanism: A warmer atmosphere would melt the ice more inland, and the resulting water would keep running off into the ocean.

Even more, both Southwest Greenland and Eastern Antarctic Ice Shelf were deemed as safe regions, not affected by global warming and ice sheet meltdown.

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