Greenland's ice sheet melting faster than thought: research

Scientists removing an ice core drill amid inclement weather

Scientists removing an ice core drill amid inclement

GREENLAND'S vast mile-thick ice sheet is melting at a scale that is "off the charts" and carries major consequences for changes in climate, a new study warns.

A team of scientists journeyed to Greenland in 2015 to observe and measure the rate that the colossal ice sheets in the region are melting.

Researchers at the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution in Falmouth, Massachusetts found that glaciers on the world's second-largest island are melting more than 30 percent faster than during the mid-1900s.

"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.

"The real take home message is it's just in the last two decades we've seen this unprecedented increase in runoff", Sarah Das, a glaciologist at Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution and co-author on the study, told Earther.

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This is the melting of the Greenland shield is one of the most important factors influencing the increase in global sea level.

Ice loss from Greenland is one of the key drivers of global sea level rise. At lower heights melt water directly runs off the ice sheet, but at escalated heights some percolates down porous compressed snow vociferated firn prior to refreezing to constitute layer not as same as the growth layers discovered in trees.

Given that melting ice is significantly fueling sea-level rise, Trusel concluded: "How much Greenland melts matters".

Scientists have been observing a colossal ice sheet in Greenland shrink at an unprecedented rate due to global warming. I am especially enthusiastic about technology, science, and health-related issues.

"Rather than increasing steadily as climate warms, Greenland will melt increasingly more and more for every degree of warming".

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The cores of the drilling contained records of past melts, which allowed the scientists to extend their records back to the 17th century. The central west Greenland cores show a 575 per cent increase in surface melting in the last 20 years compared with pre-industrial times, while the ice cap core shows a 275 per cent increase. Instead of escaping the ice sheet, the short-lived meltwater forms icy bands that stack up layers of densely packed ice over time. For instance, 2012 was particularly intense, with 97% of the entire ice sheet experiencing surface melting for a few days.

Satellite methods to understand melting rates have only been around in recent decades, so the ability to go back further in time was important.

Being able to trace melting rates back 350 years is a particular strength of this latest research, according to Matt King from UTAS, who wasn't involved in this study. The satellites used to study ice sheet melting around the world haven't been around long enough to capture a complete picture of the melting process. He added, "I don't know how many more nails we need".

Additional co-authors are: Matthew J. Evans, Wheaton College; Ben E. Smith, University of Washington; Xavier Fettweis, University of Leige; Joseph R. McConnell, Desert Research Institute; and Brice P.Y. Noël and and Michiel R. van den Broeke Utrecht University.

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