Greenland's glaciers receding at a faster rate than predicted

Stuti Raha

24th November 2020

Greenland’s ice caps (Source: BBC)

According to a study published in the Nature Journal, Greenland's ice caps are melting at a faster rate than expected due to the increasing effects of climate change and increasing temperature. Researchers revealed that if measures are not taken immediately to reduce the consequences of global warming then sea levels could rise up to 67 cm by 2100.

The rising sea levels could endanger the lives of 400 million people with the risk of flooding instead of the 360 million previously predicted by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), by the end of the century. Sea level rises could also contribute to storm surges that affect coastal regions.

“These are not unlikely events or small impacts, these are happening and will be devastating for the coastal communities,” Andrew Shephard, professor of earth observation at the University of Leeds, told the Nature Journal.

Greenland has seen a melt of 3.8 trillion tonnes of ice since 1992. The rate of ice loss has gone from 33 billion tonnes a year in the 1990s to 254 billion tonnes a year in the last decade.

Greenland's ice plays a direct role in the rise of sea levels because it melts due to resting on a large landmass. This is different from the sea ice that makes up much of the remaining Arctic ice cap as the ice there is largely floating.

Most of the loss of the ice in Greenland can be blamed on the melting caused by air surface temperatures, which have risen much faster in the Arctic than the global average. The other ice melted because of the speeding up of the flow of ice into the sea from glaciers caused by the warming ocean.

Rachel Kennerly, a climate activist at Friends of the Earth, told The Guardian, "We're in a climate emergency – the impacts are coming thicker and faster every day. This latest research is yet more in an ever-growing pile of evidence which shows we need real action, not warm words.” She urged the government to take real action and introduce emissions cuts and provide support for those already suffering the consequences of climate change.

(Sources: BBC, The Guardian, Climate Nasa, The Weather Channel)

Edited by: Aditi Anilkumar

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