DATE: April 15, 2020
SNIP: Greenland’s ice sheet shrank by more than at any time since record-taking began last year, according to a study published on Wednesday that showed the risk that climate change could cause sharp rises in global sea levels.
The huge melt was due not only to warm temperatures, but also atmospheric circulation patterns that have become more frequent due to climate change, suggesting scientists may be underestimating the threat to the ice, the authors found.
“We’re destroying ice in decades that was built over thousands of years,” Marco Tedesco, research professor at Columbia University’s Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory, who led the study, told Reuters. “What we do here has huge implications for everywhere else in the world.”
Greenland contributed 20-25% of global sea level rise over the last few decades, Tedesco said. If carbon emissions continue to grow, this share could rise to around 40% by 2100, he said, although there is considerable uncertainty about how ice melt will develop in Antarctica – the largest ice sheet on Earth.
Most models used by scientists to project Greenland’s future ice loss do not capture the impact of changing atmospheric circulation patterns – meaning such models may be significantly underestimating future melting, the authors said.
“It’s almost like missing half of the melting,” said Tedesco.