Scientists: Greenland Ice Sheet is melting on 'overdrive' as planet warms

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

The ice sheet has the potential to raise global sea levels by 23 feet if it melts in its entirety.

It seems that from a historical perspective, today's melt rates are really "off the charts" and this study provides lots of evidence, according to Sarah Das, co-author of the study.

Rising sea levels The study found that melting from the Greenland ice sheet began in the 1800s, around the time of the Industrial Revolution. A primary takeaway from the study, Trusel said in a statement, is the speed of melting, especially over the past 25 years.

A United Nations report in October said that marine ice sheet instability in Antarctica and/or the irreversible loss of the Greenland ice sheet could result in a multi-metre rise in the sea level over hundreds to thousands of years. A contemporary study portrays this enormous melt out wasn't only an irregularity juxtaposed with the last 40 years but the last 350.

Researchers say that if the Greenland ice sheet melting continues at "unprecedented rates" - which they attribute to warmer summers - it could accelerate the already fast pace of sea level rise.

The Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution is a private, non-profit organization on Cape Cod, Mass., dedicated to marine research, engineering, and higher education. Greenland experiences seasonal melt during the warm summer days, and at low elevations, the melting is more intense. At lower heights melt water directly runs off the ice sheet, but at escalated heights some percolates down porous compressed snow vociferated firn prior to refreezing to constitute layer not as same as the growth layers discovered in trees. Instead, it forms distinct icy bands that stack up in layers of densely packed ice over time.

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The cores of the drilling contained records of past melts, which allowed the scientists to extend their records back to the 17th century.

Scientists then measured physical and chemical properties along the cores to determine the thickness and age of the melt layers. Dark bands running horizontally across the cores, like ticks on a ruler, enabled the scientists to visually chronicle the strength of melting at the surface from year to year. Melt layers that were thicker indicated the years in which more melting occurred, whereas thinner sections represented years with less amount of melting.

The results from the ice cores were combined with observations from satellites and climate models. Hence, the region could be the largest contributor to the rising sea level, more than any region across the globe. In other words, their new findings cover melting broadly, across the much of the ice sheet.

Their report was published in the journal Nature.

"We have had a sense that there's been a great deal of melting in recent decades, but we previously had no basis for comparison with melt rates going further back in time", Osman said.

Das and her colleagues at Rowan University and elsewhere reached that conclusion by examining three ice cores from central west Greenland, and one from an ice cap off the coast, that contain a history of melt events spanning the past 350 years.

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