Greenland Ice Sheet Melting Faster Than Ever, Reacting Even With Minimal Warming

Greenland Ice Sheet Melting Faster Than Ever, Reacting Even With Minimal Warming

Melting ice in Greenland, home to the second largest mass of ice after Antarctica, is thought to add 0.8 millimetres of water to global ocean levels annually, more than any other region, according to NASA.

The study was published Wednesday in the peer-reviewed British journal Nature. "As a result, Greenland melt is adding to sea level more than any time during the last three and a half centuries, if not thousands of years", said Luke Trusel, a glaciologist at Rowan University's School of Earth & Environment.

Greenland's ice sheet is now melting at a rate that is "off the charts" compared with the last 350 years, a new study by scientists from Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI) has warned.

In General, noted a fifty percent increase in the total volume of melt water in the ice cover since the start of the industrial era. The melting and sea level rise we've observed already will be dwarfed by what may be expected in the future as climate continues to warm, " said Trusel.

Ice loss from Greenland is the single largest contributor to global sea-level rise, which is predicted to lead to inundation of low-lying islands and coastal cities around the world over the next several decades and centuries.

In order to come up with a historical record of Greenland's ice melt, the research team drilled ice cores from the ice sheet at sites more than 1,800 meters above sea level.

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Dr Trusel said: "We see melting and runoff from Greenland start ticking up as warming initiated in the Arctic in the 1800s, but only in the last few decades has it really accelerated to levels we haven't seen before in the last few centuries".

In a new study, an worldwide team of researchers found that while 2012 was indeed unusually warm for Greenland, the ice sheet's dramatic warming may simply be a preview of what's in store for the future. Over the last 20 years, melt intensity has increased 250 to 575 percent compared to pre-industrial melt rates.

At higher elevations, the summer meltwater doesn't run off the ice sheet, but instead refreezes after coming in contact with the snowpack sitting underneath. Thicker melt layers represented years of higher melting, while thinner sections indicated years with less melting.

Significantly, they've confirmed that the increasing melting rate is following an exponential trajectory, caused by positive feedbacks like the albedo effect, according to Dr Trusel.

Satellite methods to understand melting rates have only been around in recent decades, so the ability to go back further in time was important. They found that the disappearance of the ice has accelerated after the Industrial revolution in the mid-nineteenth century, but the rampant situation acquired much later. The satellites used to study ice sheet melting around the world haven't been around long enough to capture a complete picture of the melting process.

Besides Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, ice core samples were examined at the U.S. National Science Foundation Ice Core Facility in Denver, Wheaton College in Norton, Massachusetts, and the Desert Research Institute in Reno, Nevada.

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