DATE: August 21, 2020
SNIP: Greenland’s massive ice sheet saw a record net loss of 532 billion tonnes last year, raising red flags about accelerating sea level rise, according to new findings.
That is equivalent to an additional three million tonnes of water streaming into global oceans every day, or six Olympic pools every second.
Crumbling glaciers and torrents of melt-water slicing through Greenland’s ice block—as thick as ten Eiffel Towers end-to-end—were the single biggest source of global sea level rise in 2019 and accounted for 40 percent of the total, researchers reported in the journal Communications Earth & Environment.
Last year’s loss of mass was at least 15 percent above the previous record in 2012, but even more alarming are the long-term trends, they said.
“2019 and the four other record-loss years have all occurred in the last decade,” lead author Ingo Sasgen, a glaciologist at the Helmholtze Centre for Polar and Marine Research in Germany, told AFP.
The ice sheet is now tracking the worst-case global warming scenario of the UN’s climate science advisory panel, the IPCC, noted Andrew Shepherd, director of the Centre for Polar Observation and Modelling at the University of Leeds.
“This means we need to prepare for an extra ten centimetres or so of global sea level rise by 2100 from Greenland alone,” said Shepherd, who was not involved in the study.
Scientists not involved in the research were not surprised by the findings, but expressed concern.
“The ice sheet has lost ice every year for the last 20 years,” said Twila Moon, a research scientists at the University of Colorado.
“If everyone’s alarm bells were not already ringing, they must be now.”
“This tipping point in the climate system is one of the potential disasters facing us.”