Greenland’s inland ice is melting at such a rapid pace that it ‘increases worldwide flood risk’

The melting of Greenland’s ice caps ‘increases worldwide flood risks’, according to a new study that showed that more than 3.5 trillion tonnes have disappeared in the past decade.

A team of scientists, led by them at the University of Leeds, determined that the meltdown has increased global sea levels worldwide by one centimeter using satellite data from the massive ice caps.

One-third of the increase occurred in just two summers – 2012 and 2019 – as extreme weather led to record-high levels of ice melting that have not been observed for the past 40 years.

During these summers, hot air traveled over a large part of the inland ice, the place between the ice and the glacier, which led to increased surface melting.

The recently captured satellite images showed that the melting of ice varied dramatically depending on the season, and that it was largely caused by heat waves flowing around Greenland.

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The melting of Greenland's ice caps 'increases worldwide flood risk' according to a new study which found that more than 3.5 trillion tonnes have disappeared in the last decade

The melting of Greenland’s ice caps ‘increases worldwide flood risk’ according to a new study which found that more than 3.5 trillion tonnes have disappeared in the last decade

Researchers have estimated that the melting of Greenland’s inland ice has caused about 25 percent of global sea level rise over the past few decades.

If all of Greenland’s ice were to melt, global sea levels would rise by another 20 feet – but this is not expected to happen for the time being.

Thomas Slater, from the University of Leeds Center for Polar Observation and Modeling and lead author, told AFP: ‘As we have seen with other parts of the world, Greenland is also vulnerable to an increase in extreme weather events.

“As our climate warms, it is reasonable to expect that the cases of extreme meltdown in Greenland will occur more often.”

Scientists determined that melting has increased global sea levels worldwide by one centimeter using satellite data from the massive ice caps

Scientists determined that melting has increased global sea levels worldwide by one centimeter using satellite data from the massive ice caps

Slater and his colleagues used a CryoSat-2 satellite to collect ice melt measurements from January 2011 to October 2020 to calculate surface elevation changes across the Greenland ice sheet, the team wrote in the study published in Nature.

These data were then compared with 15,380 simultaneous and independent estimates determined from airborne laser altitude measurement, a unit on planet-orbiting satellites to map the Earth’s terrain – all of which showed how much of Greenland’s ice caps have melted.

According to NASA: ‘The heights of surface properties can be calculated by comparing how long it takes a laser pulse to echo back in different places.’

The team provided an example of data collected in 2012, which revealed changes in atmospheric patterns that caused unusually hot air to hover over the ice sheet for weeks, more than 527 billion tons of ice were lost.

The study’s co-author Amber Leeson, associate professor of Environmental Data Science at Britain’s Lancaster University, said in a statement: ‘Model estimates suggest that Greenland’s inland ice will contribute between 3-23. [centimeters] to global sea level rise in 2100.

Scientists used a CryoSat-2 satellite to collect ice melt measurements from January 2011 to October 2020 to calculate changes in surface altitude across Greenland's inland ice.

Scientists used a CryoSat-2 satellite to collect ice melt measurements from January 2011 to October 2020 to calculate changes in surface altitude across Greenland’s inland ice.

“These new space-borne estimates of runoff will help us better understand complex ice-melting processes … and just enable us to refine our estimates of future sea level rise.”

A separate observation of Greenland found that the ice caps lost 8.5 billion tons of surface mass on July 27, enough ice to cover Florida in two inches of water.

This extreme melting was the result of heat waves in northern Greenland that raised the temperature to more than 68 degrees Fahrenheit – double the average summer temperature, according to the Danish Meteorological Institute.

While that volume was less than the record one-day ice melt in 2019, which was 12.5 billion tons, the June event covered a larger area.

A separate observation of Greenland found that the ice caps lost 8.5 billion tons of surface mass on July 27, which is enough ice to cover Florida in two inches of water.

A separate observation of Greenland found that the ice caps lost 8.5 billion tons of surface mass on July 27, which is enough ice to cover Florida in two inches of water

Melting events can create feedback loops that drive further warming and melting in Greenland, according to Marco Tedesco, a climate researcher at Columbia University.

When the snow melts, it reveals darker ice or soil underneath, which absorbs more sunlight instead of reflecting it back out of the atmosphere.

“It really positions Greenland to be more vulnerable to the rest of the melting season,” Tedesco, a research professor at Columbia University’s Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory, told Reuters.

Greenland’s inland ice is the second largest mass of freshwater ice on the planet, with almost 695,000 square kilometers, second only to Antarctica.

The melting of the ice caps started in 1990 and has been accelerated since 2000.

The mass loss in recent years is about four times greater than it was before 2000, say researchers at Polar Portal.

Greenland’s melting typically starts in June and lasts until August, but data show that the island has lost more than 100 billion tonnes of ice since June.

THE SEA COULD RISE UP TO 4 FEET IN THE YEAR 2300

Global sea levels could rise as much as 1.2 meters (4 feet) by 2,300, even if we meet Paris’ climate targets for 2015, scientists have warned.

The long-term change will be driven by a thawing of ice from Greenland to Antarctica, which will redesign global coastlines.

Sea level rise is threatening cities from Shanghai to London, to low-lying parts of Florida or Bangladesh and to entire nations such as the Maldives.

It is crucial that we limit emissions as soon as possible to avoid an even greater increase, a German-led team of researchers said in a new report.

In 2300, the report expected sea levels to rise by 0.7-1.2 meters, even though almost 200 nations fully meet the targets under the 2015 Paris Agreement.

The goals of the agreements include reducing greenhouse gas emissions to net zero in the second half of this century.

Sea levels will rise relentlessly because heat-trapping industrial gases already emitted will linger in the atmosphere and melt more ice, it says.

In addition, the water expands naturally when heated above four degrees Celsius (39.2 ° F).

Every five years delay beyond 2020 in the highest global emissions would mean an additional increase of 20 centimeters (8 inches) of sea level by 2300.

“Sea levels are often communicated as a really slow process that you can not do much about … but the next 30 years really matter,” said lead author Dr. Matthias Mengel, of the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research, in Potsdam, Germany.

None of the nearly 200 governments to sign the Paris Agreement are on track to fulfill their promises.

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