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26-year study shows Greenland is losing ice much faster than expected

26-year study shows Greenland ...
A 26-year study shows that ice loss in the Greenland Ice Sheet has accelerated since the 1990s
A 26-year study shows that ice loss in the Greenland Ice Sheet has accelerated since the 1990s
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A 26-year study shows that ice loss in the Greenland Ice Sheet has accelerated since the 1990s
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A 26-year study shows that ice loss in the Greenland Ice Sheet has accelerated since the 1990s

Greenland is one of the places hardest hit by climate change, and now a new study has revealed that the situation is even worse than we thought. A comprehensive new study has tracked long-term ice loss in the region and found that the Greenland Ice Sheet has lost 3.8 trillion tonnes of ice since 1992 – and the annual rate is rising faster than previously expected.

The project is known as the Ice Sheet Mass Balance Inter-comparison Exercise (IMBIE), and it’s made up of 89 scientists from 50 institutions around the world. The team compiled data from 26 separate surveys taken over 11 satellite missions, monitoring changes in the Greenland Ice Sheet’s volume, flow and gravity between 1992 and 2018.

The team calculated that in that time, Greenland has lost 3.8 trillion tonnes of ice, which has raised global sea levels by 10.6 mm (0.4 in). The ice loss has also been speeding up, so that it’s melting more than seven times faster now – up from an average of 33 billion tonnes per year in the 1990s to 254 billion tonnes this decade.

At its most intense, ice losses were even greater – around 2011 annual ice loss was at a whopping 335 billion tonnes, or 10 times the 1990s' rate. Things slowed down a little in recent years – to 238 billion tonnes per year – but this is still seven times faster than in the 1990s. Plus the dataset is missing 2019, which is expected to be warmer.

Using regional climate models, the researchers were able to show that around 52 percent of this ice loss was the result of warmer air temperatures, while the other 48 percent was due to warmer waters.

All this material has to go somewhere, of course, and that somewhere is the ocean. As such, sea levels are also rising about seven times faster now than they were in the 1990s.

The researchers say that this increase in ice loss and sea level rise means that we’re on track to meet the higher end of predicted climate change scenarios. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) predicted that the most likely scenario for global sea levels would be a rise of 60 cm (23.6 in) by 2100 – but the IMBIE figures show we’re headed for 67 cm (26.4 in).

That might not sound like a lot, but averaged over the whole Earth it makes a big difference. For coastal and low-lying areas, higher sea levels mean storm flooding is more likely to occur and be more devastating when it does.

“As a rule of thumb, for every centimeter (0.4 in) rise in global sea level another six million people are exposed to coastal flooding around the planet,” says Andrew Shepherd, lead scientist on IMBIE. “On current trends, Greenland ice melting will cause 100 million people to be flooded each year by the end of the century, so 400 million in total due to all sea level rise. These are not unlikely events or small impacts; they are happening and will be devastating for coastal communities.”

The research was published in the journal Nature. The team describes the work in the video below.

Greenland ice losses rising faster than expected

Source: University of Leeds

17 comments
buzzclick
Places with lots of money, like Florida, will build coastal walls to mitigate this coming flood of water and weather, while islands in the South Pacific may get submerged and disappear. But that is "normal" for the deniers, since most of them will be on high ground.
guzmanchinky
2 feet is not much but it's a big deal. Unfortunately many cities are built just barely above high tide. I'm always surprised how many people still buy homes, very expensive homes, right on the water. I do believe that we will solve these issues before 2100, but the water might still be that high by then. What's sad is that there will be people, even those who subscribe to a non-hysterical facts only science site like this who will now come on here and say it's all fake news...
Worzel
Yawn, Yawn! Greenland still hasn't reached the lack of ice level that existed a few hundred years ago, when it was inhabited, and farmed. All the threatened sea rise predictions over the last 20-30 years, of ''global warming, panic-panic,'' have yet to appear. The most prominent flooding problems, like those in Venice, are not caused by water rising, but by land sinking. Anyway, be thankful that all the fiddling with fractions of one percent of anthropogenic atmospheric CO2 will do nothing to the climate, except, maybe, give the ''deniers'' a good laugh! CO2 has had no effect on climate in the last 600 million years, so it wont now, just because a bunch of con-men invented Carbon Tax.
bwana4swahili
This is simply the Earth coming out of an ice age. The time frame might have been accelerated by human activity but the warming is not unexpected. Adapt or die has always been nature's rule; nothing new.
Wolf0579
Cue the Russia-publican climate deniers.
Nelson Hyde Chick
No, buzzclick, Florida can't do that because it sits on limestone, which is as pores as a sponge, so no wall will work there.
Cryptonoetic
The solution is to build a wall around Greenland. It will become Earth's largest single source of fresh water. I think I now know why Trump wanted to buy it ;-)
Signguy
Solar physicists at CERN, or the European Organization for Nuclear Research, has shown conclusively how the Earth's naturally Cooling and warming Cycles are caused by changes in the sun's magnetic cycles. When they're at maximum (lots of sun spots) it causes less Cloud cover which warm the Earth and Degases CO2 from the ocean. When the cycle switches back to a solar minimum (fewer sun spots), it causes more cloud cover which cools the earth and reabsorbs CO2 into the ocean.
Mark Randombard
The melting of the Greenland ice sheet could be a disaster for millions, but when in human history have we been able to predict such dramatic changes, so far in advance. Isn't this also a unique opportunity?
Mark Randombard
Are we coming out of an ice age, or narrowly averting one even still...?