Melting of Greenland’s ice is ‘off the charts,’ study shows

Pat Wise
December 9, 2018

The melting of Greenland's ice sheet has accelerated to unprecedented rates in the face of rising temperatures, analysis of ice cores has found.

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 are seeing levels of Greenland ice melt and runoff that are already unprecedented over recent centuries (and likely millennia) in direct response to warming global temperatures since the pre-Industrial era", Sarah Das, co-author of the report and scientist at the USA -based Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution said in a statement.

Ice sheet melting began to increase soon after the mid-1800s.

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.

Today, the ice is melting 50 percent faster than it did before industrialisation and 33 percent faster than during the 20th century. "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", Trusel said.

The loss of ice from Greenland is one of the key drivers of rising global sea levels.

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More than half of the ice-sheet water that's entering the ocean seems to come from runoff from melted snow and glacial ice from the top of the ice sheet. I am especially enthusiastic about technology, science, and health-related issues.

Greenland is melting faster today than it has at any time in the last 350 years, and probably much longer, new research finds. Because Greenland had been icy and cold for thousands of years prior, the researchers suspect that 2012 was a record for melt going back even further, to as early as 7,800 years ago.

The year 2012, in particular, was a standout for ice melt. A contemporary study portrays this enormous melt out wasn't only an irregularity juxtaposed with the last 40 years but the last 350. In the last 20 years, however, melt intensity has increased by up to 575 percent in comparison with the pre-industrial rates. At higher elevations, however, the summer meltwater quickly refreezes from contact with the below-freezing snowpack sitting underneath. This frozen meltwater creates distinct ice bands that pile up over years to form layers of densely packed ice.

Scientists then measured physical and chemical properties along the cores to determine the thickness and age of the melt layers. Mwltwater from the ice sheet runs off into the ocean, contributing to sea level rise.

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.

This approach helps researchers update their tracking record, which indicates that ice sheets are melting at a faster pace than previously thought. Willis, who was not involved in the research, added "I don't know how many more nails we need".

Additional co-authors are: Matthew J. Evans, Wheaton College; Ben E. Smith, University of Washington; Xavier Fettweis, University of Leige; Joseph R. McConnell, Desert Research Institute; and Brice P.Y. Noël and and Michiel R. van den Broeke Utrecht University.

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