Nature

Rising Sea Levels Due to Greenland’s Ice Loss Can Exponentially Increase Global Flood Risk

According to a new study released on Monday, Greenland’s ice sheet has melted by 3.5 trillion tonnes in the last decade, raising global sea levels by one millimeter and increasing global flood risks.

Greenland's Sverdrup Glacier Gets 2 Degrees Hotter Per Year, Cutting Ice Rapidly

(Photo : Photo by Sean Gallup/Getty Images)
In this aerial view melting ice forms a lake on free-floating ice jammed into the Ilulissat Icefjord during unseasonably warm weather on July 30, 2019 near Ilulissat, Greenland. The Sahara heat wave that recently sent temperatures to record levels in parts of Europe is arriving in Greenland. Climate change is having a profound effect in Greenland, where over the last several decades summers have become longer and the rate that glaciers and the Greenland ice cap are retreating has accelerated.

Extreme Melting

Extreme melting episodes have been growing in frequency for at least 40 years on the ice sheet atop the world’s biggest island, with enough frozen water to elevate oceans six meters (20 feet) globally.

Although Greenland is one of the most researched regions on the planet by climate scientists, Monday’s study is the first to utilize satellite data to identify ice sheet runoff.

According to researchers who published their findings in the journal Nature Communications, Greenland’s meltwater discharge has increased by 21% over the last four decades.

Related Article: Changes in Oceanic Temperature and Current are Direly Affecting Extreme Weather Events

Losing Ice

The Year 2100 Will See the Fastest Rate of Melting of Greenland’s Ice Sheet for the Last 12 Millennia

(Photo : Wikimedia Commons)
Panorama of the small settlement Naajaat in North-West Greenland. The Greenland ice sheet is seen to the upper left (Wikimedia Commons). The ice sheet of Greenland has grown and advanced many times, and it retreated several times as well for many millennia, and a new study showed that by the year 2100, the rate of the loss of its ice will be at its fastest in 12,000 years.

More alarmingly, the European Space Agency data revealed that the ice sheet had lost 3.5 trillion tonnes of ice since 2011, causing global ocean levels to rise and putting coastal cities in danger of flooding.

According to the analysis, only two hot summers in the last decade-2012 and 2019-accounted for one-third of the ice loss.

The photographs revealed considerable yearly variation in ice melt and, when paired with temperature data, showed that heatwaves were becoming a significant driver of ice loss-in addition to global warming.

Five hundred twenty-seven billion tonnes of ice was lost in 2012 due to changes in weather patterns that allowed hot air to loiter over the ice sheet for weeks.

“As we’ve observed in other areas of the world, Greenland is prone to more extreme weather events,” said principal author Thomas Slater of the University of Leeds Centre for Polar Observation and Modelling.

“It’s logical to predict that as our climate warms, dramatic melting in Greenland will become more common.”

Related Article: A Huge Hole Seemingly Appeared Out of Nowhere in the Arctic’s “Last Ice” Surface

Increasing Sea Levels

Climate Change Causes Ice Larger than Paris to Break Off from Greenland Glacier and Shatter

(Photo : Pixabay)
Scientists reported that climate change has caused an ice chunk larger than Paris to break off from the only remaining and largest glacier in Greenland and shatter to pieces.

Predicting how much Greenland’s melt will contribute to increasing sea levels is notoriously difficult for scientists, especially when other land-based glacier melt is considered.

Water expands when oceans warm, contributing to increased sea levels.

According to the study’s authors, the satellite data allowed scientists to determine how much ice Greenland lost in a given year and convert it to sea-level rise equivalents swiftly and reliably.

According to co-author Amber Leeson, senior professor in Environmental Data Science at Lancaster University in the United Kingdom, “model projections show that the Greenland ice sheet will contribute between 3-23 cm to global sea-level rise by 2100.”

“These new spaceborne runoff estimates will help us better comprehend complicated glacier melt processes… and simply allow us to update our future sea-level rise forecasts.”

Also Read: Climate Tipping Points Inevitably Leads to Dire Environmental Consequences

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