“The ice sheet is now in this new dynamic state, where even if we went back to a climate that was more like what we had 20 or 30 years ago, we would still be pretty quickly losing mass,” Ian Howat, co-author of the examine and a professor at Ohio State University, mentioned.
Greenland’s ice sheet dumps greater than 280 billion metric tons of melting ice into the ocean annually, making it the best single contributor to international sea degree rise, based on Michalea King, the lead creator of the examine and researcher at Ohio State University.
The ice loss has been so large lately, she mentioned, that it has induced a measurable change within the gravitational area over Greenland.
Ice melting in Greenland contributes greater than a millimeter rise to sea degree yearly, and that is more likely to worsen. Sea ranges are projected to rise by greater than three ft by the top of the century, wiping away seashores and coastal properties.
Coastal states like Florida, and low-lying island nations are significantly susceptible. Just three ft of sea degree rise might put giant areas of shoreline underwater. Forty % of the US inhabitants resides in coastal areas which are susceptible to sea degree rise.
“There’s a lot of places, like in Florida especially, where one meter alone would cover a lot of existing land areas,” King mentioned. “And that’s exacerbated when you get storms and hurricanes and things like that, that then cause extra surge on top of a higher baseline.”
The examine additionally discovered that the ice sheet is retreating in fast bursts, resulting in a sudden and unpredictable rise in sea ranges, making it tough to organize for the results.
The examine used 4 a long time of satellite tv for pc information to measure modifications in Greenland’s ice sheet. The authors discovered that after 2000, the ice sheet shrank so quickly that replenishing snowfall wouldn’t sustain with the speed of melting from elements of the glacier newly uncovered to hotter ocean water, even when local weather change had been reversed.
Entire coasts of ice are retreating without delay as a consequence of local weather change, Howat mentioned, including that each one 200 glaciers that make up the Greenland ice sheet have been noticed retreating inside the similar episode.
Even although the retreat of the Greenland Ice sheet seemingly can’t be reversed, it is simply the primary in a sequence of tipping factors. If local weather change continues at this price, the speed of melting will get a lot worse.
“We’ve passed the point of no return but there’s obviously more to come,” Howat mentioned. “Rather than being a single tipping point in which we’ve gone from a happy ice sheet to a rapidly collapsing ice sheet, it’s more of a staircase where we’ve fallen off the first step but there’s many more steps to go down into the pit.”