Greenland ice sheet melting at alarming rate of speed

07 December, 2018, 23:30 | Author: Darnell Taylor
  • Sarah Das  WHOI		Large rivers form on the surface of the ice sheet in summer rapidly moving meltwater from the ice sheet to the ocean

Lead by glaciologist and climate scientist Luke Trusel of Rowan University, a team of USA and European researchers analyzed more than three centuries of melt patterns in ice cores from western Greenland. Across the ice sheet, melting was more rapid in 2012 than any other year and the most recent decade included in the ice core-analysis, 2004-2013, experienced "a more sustained and greater magnitude of melt than any other 10-year period" in the 350-year record, the scientists wrote. The melting of the ice sheet began to increase during the 19th century, and now it has increased dramatically.

The increased melting began around the same time humans started altering the atmosphere in the mid-1800s, said Trusel, lead author of a study of the meltwater runoff that was published Wednesday in the journal Nature. The study provides new evidence of the impacts of climate change on Arctic melting and global sea level rise. 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, " said Trusel.

In General, noted a fifty percent increase in the total volume of melt water in the ice cover since the start of the industrial era.

In July 2012, a spate of warm weather caused almost the entire surface of the Greenland ice sheet to begin melting, an event with no precedent in the satellite record. In the case of the cores drilled by the researchers, the record goes back into the 17th century.

The report comes after naturalist Sir David Attenborough warned the collapse of civilisations and extinction of much of the natural world "is on the horizon" without urgent action to tackle climate change.

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An interesting aspect of the findings, according to Dr Das, was how little additional warming it now takes to cause huge "spikes" in ice sheet melting. Instead of escaping the ice sheet, the short-lived meltwater forms icy bands that stack up layers of densely packed ice over time. Melt layers that were thicker indicated the years in which more melting occurred, whereas thinner sections represented years with less amount of melting.

The research says the melting could contribute to rising sea levels - threatening low-lying cities, islands and industries worldwide.

"We find that for every degree of warming, melting increases more and more - it outpaces the warming", added Luke Trusel, a geologist from Rowan University and also an author of the study.

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 U.S. Department of Defense, the Netherlands Organization for Scientific Research, the Netherlands Earth System Science Center, and the Belgian National Fund for Scientific Research also provided institutional support to the effort. Researchers drilled at such high elevations for good reason.

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