Greenland's ice sheet melt rate unprecedented, happening faster than anybody thought
07 December, 2018, 23:32 | Author: Kelly Sanders
Given that melting ice is significantly fueling sea-level rise, Trusel concluded: "How much Greenland melts matters".
A team of scientists journeyed to Greenland in 2015 to observe and measure the rate that the colossal ice sheets in the region are melting. Ice cover is disappearing faster than in the last four hundred years, and possibly in the last seven or eight millennia.
At today's higher Arctic temperatures, each degree of warming causes about double the amount of melting that the same degree would have caused in the 1800s, Das said. But more than half of the ice-sheet water entering the ocean comes from runoff from melted snow and glacial ice atop the ice sheet.
Global warming is melting ice in Greenland at "unprecedented rates", experts warned.
They found that the surface of Greenland's ice sheet melts on summer days.
Trusel's team of worldwide researchers analyzed ice cores extracted from Greenland, a massive island wedged between the Arctic and Atlantic Oceans.
The year 2012, in particular, was a standout for ice melt.
The research says the melting could contribute to rising sea levels - threatening low-lying cities, islands and industries worldwide. Another noteworthy aspect of the findings is how little additional warming it now takes to cause huge spikes in ice sheet melting. This frozen meltwater creates distinct ice bands that pile up over years to form layers of densely packed ice. They were able to go back as far as the 17th century.
The team analysed these results in combination with the imaging data collected by various satellites and the data from sophisticated climate models, which enabled them to determine the rate of ice melting, not only at core site, but also broadly across Greenland.
"We have had a sense that there's been a great deal of melting in recent decades, but we previously had no basis for comparison with melt rates going further back in time", Osman said.
"To be able to answer what might happen to Greenland next, we need to understand how Greenland has already responded to climate change", he said.
Because of a "nonlinear response of surface melting to increasing summer air temperatures, continued atmospheric warming will lead to rapid increases in [Greenland ice sheet] runoff and sea-level contributions", the study said.
In the wake of October's dire report from the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change warning that civilization has just more than a decade to stave off climate catastrophe, Thursday's report spells more bad news for the planet, especially the millions of people living near the world's oceans.
The core samples were brought back to ice core labs at the U.S. National Science Foundation Ice Core Facility in Denver, Colo., WHOI in Woods Hole, Mass., Wheaton College in Norton, Mass., and the Desert Research Institute in Reno, Nev. where the scientists measured physical and chemical properties along the cores to determine the thickness and age of the melt layers. Researchers drilled at such high elevations for good reason.
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