Publicado: Sol, Diciembre 09, 2018
Ciencia | Por Aurelio Ontiveros

Greenland’s ice sheet is melting at its fastest rate in 350 years

Greenland’s ice sheet is melting at its fastest rate in 350 years

To say it's been a bad year for climate change news is an understatement. For us, he will thus cover climate, environment, and science news, among others.

Surface melting across Greenland's mile-thick ice sheet began increasing in the mid-19 century and then ramped up dramatically during the 20 and early 21 centuries, showing no signs of abating, according to new research published December 5, 2018, in the journal Nature.

To determine just how fast Greenland's ice is retreating compared with the past, scientists used a drill the size of a traffic light pole to take ice core samples.

Low-lying tropical island states from the Maldives to Tuvalu view Greenland's 3,000-metre (10,000 ft) thick ice sheet with foreboding since it contains enough ice to raise world sea levels by around 7 metres if it all melted, over many centuries.

Glaciologist and lead author Luke Trusel said the increasing melt "began around the same time as we started altering the atmosphere in the mid-1800s" but had recently "gone into overdrive".

"We show that although melt started to increase around the pre- to post-industrial transition, it really stayed fairly low and stable until about the 1990s", Das said.

But it was only during the 1970s that the melting clearly breached the natural range of variability.

The year 2012, in particular, was a standout for ice melt.

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According to current data, the rate of melting of glaciers over the 20th and 21st century has significantly accelerated.

As ice melts, the darker ground beneath absorbs more energy from the sun, which causes even more melting - creating a feedback loop. This prevents it from escaping the ice sheet in the form of runoff.

Scientists tracking Greenland's ice by satellite and on the ground have seen increasingly dire ice loss. They found that the disappearance of the ice has accelerated after the Industrial revolution in the mid-nineteenth century, but the rampant situation acquired much later.

Climate change has forced the melting of Greenland's mile-thick ice sheet into "overdrive", threatening to boost global sea levels to unsafe levels.

According to this year's IPCC report, warming of between 1.5C and 2C locks in the eventual total deglaciation of Greenland. But the question on everybody's mind has always been how fast. Since surface temperatures in the Arctic are rising faster than any other place on Earth, these findings don't bode well for the future of Greenland's ice sheet - and with it, our own.

It's a process called polar amplification, and it means that small increases in global average temperature will have the greatest affect in polar regions. And though we don't know exactly what that temperature tipping point is, "what's clear is that the more we warm, the more ice melts".

Melting ice is the primary cause of rising water levels and researchers predict that over the next couple of decades there will be massive flooding in coastal towns round the world.

In turn the surface comes in contact with warmer air and melting is increased. Greenland experiences seasonal melt during the warm summer days, and at low elevations, the melting is more intense.

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