Greenland on way towards losing ice faster than any century in last 12,000 years, say scientists

Researchers are of the opinion that countries around the world need to take action to reduce emissions, slow decline of ice sheets and mitigate sea-level rise.


A new study has concluded that if society doesn't;t curb their emission of greenhouse gases (GHG), the rate of ice loss this century in Greenland, is likely to outpace that of any century over the last 12,000 years.

The research, conducted by University of Buffalo's Jason Briner and published in the journal Nature, made use of ice sheet modelling to understand the past, present and future of the Greenland Ice Sheet.

The edge of the Greenland Ice Sheet. Credit: Jason Briner

The edge of the Greenland Ice Sheet. Credit: Jason Briner

According to a statement by the University of Buffalo, the authors used detailed reconstructions of ancient climate to drive the model. They then validated the model against real-world measurements of the ice sheet's contemporary size and ancient size.

Speaking about it Briner said that humans have altered Earth so much that the rates of ice sheet melt this century are on pace towards becoming greater than anything one has seen under natural variability of the ice sheets over the last 12,000 years.

“If the world goes on a massive energy diet, in line with a scenario that the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change calls RCP2.6, our model predicts that the Greenland Ice Sheet’s rate of mass loss this century will be only slightly higher than anything experienced in the past 12,000 years,” Briner added.

However, study authors are worried that due to high-emissions RCP8.5 scenario, the rate of mass loss for Greenland Ice Sheet could be about four times the highest values ever experienced.

Researchers are of the opinion that countries around the world need to take action to reduce emissions, slow decline of ice sheets and mitigate sea-level rise.

However, this is not the first time that scientists have spoken about the loss of ice sheet in Greenland. An earlier study, led by Michaela King of the Byrd Polar and Climate Research Center, found that Greenland ice sheet has entered a state of sustained mass loss that is irreversible and will not be able to compensate for the loss of ice, even if global warming were to end soon.


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