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In the 21st century, global warming has significantly increased and as a result, Greenland’s ice caps have already begun to deteriorate. The new study raised concern over the future state of the Greenlands iconic tundra landscape.
This conclusion was drawn from 40 years of satellite data. The data was collected and released on August 13, 2020, in Communications Earth & Environment. Originally the ice sheets decline was documented as “balanced” and did not seem as unstable as data suggests. However, with the field study led by researcher Michalea King, from the Byrd Polar and Climate Research Center, researchers were able to see that “widespread glacier retreat” pushed the ice sheet into an unbalanced state.
With what the researchers discovered, it is estimated that even if global emissions stop today the ice sheets would still continue on its track of rapidly melting.
The explanation for this steadfast decline is because “consistently, more ice is being lost through the flow of these glaciers than is being gained by snow accumulation,” in accordance to King. The only possible way Greenlands ice sheets will return to its balanced state would be if there was an extra
“60 gigatons per year of snowfall” or an equally as rapid reduced melting. Although, a situation where that would occur is highly unexpected based on climate change scenarios.
Another study, co-authored by Tedesco, stated that 2019 was the year of record-breaking ice loss. Researchers found that in 2019 ice loss in Greenland was double the yearly average since 2003. And in the span of 20 years since then glaciers annual ice loss speed up much faster than expected.
Ian Howit, director and co-author for the Byrd Polar and Climate Research Center’s newspaper, discussed how “it’s very important to emphasize that this loss of the ice sheet is not irreversible” in terms of what people can do to limit global warming.
Written by Brielle R. Buford
Phys: Greenland ice sheet reached tipping point 20 years ago, new study finds
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