Irreversible melting of Greenland ice sheets

Greenland ice-sheet has been studied in detail using a computer model for the first time, by some researchers from the National Centre for Atmospheric Science and the University of Reading.

Key Points

  • The study shows how climate change can result in an irreversible rise in sea level – increasing temperature and reduction in the Greenland ice sheet.
  • The study also showed that the massive ice sheet of Greenland is melting fast and is in a situation where there is no point of return. It means beyond which the Greenland ice sheet can never regrow fully.
  • Because of this, Greenland can experience warmer temperatures and less snowfall. Also, this melting can make the sea levels rise up to 2 m permanently.
  • Since the year 2003, Greenland has lost three and a half trillion tonnes of ice.
  • This irreversible feature of melting may permanently change sea levels around the world.
  • Greenland stores a significantly large amount of Earth’s frozen water and has an ice sheet 7 times the area of the UK.
  • At present, Greenland contributes almost 1mm to sea level per year and accounts for 25% of total sea-level rise.
  • Rising sea levels due to melting is a serious threat to the people living in the coastal areas. Around the world, the most vulnerable nations to rising sea levels are Florida, Bangladesh, and Eastern England.
  • As per the current scenario, ice loss of several meters and a rise in sea levels is expected in the future.

The findings of the study were published in the Science Journal The Cryosphere.

How to avoid a rise in sea levels?

According to the scientists, climate change must be reversed before the ice sheet declines to the threshold point that would be reached in around 600 years at the highest rate of loss as per the 5th Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.

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