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Greenland’s Ice Melting Faster Than Expected: Study

Researchers say the accelerated ice loss is caused by a combination of global warming, as well as the North Atlantic oscillation.

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Greenland
The Greenland ice sheet is seen in southeastern Greenland, Aug. 3, 2017. VOA

Ice in Greenland is melting faster than previously thought, according to a new study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

The study found that most of Greenland’s rapid ice depletion is from a surprising source — land that is largely devoid of glaciers.

The land in question is from Greenland’s ice sheet itself, which is 10,000 feet thick in places.

Scientists previously focused most of their studies on Greenland’s glaciers, in the southeast and northwest regions of the country, and found that the glaciers have increasingly been dislodging chucks into the ocean.

However, scientists in the newly published study say they realize there is another major source of ice melt, in the country’s southwest region, which is mostly devoid of large glaciers.

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FILE – An iceberg is seen melting off the coast of Ammasalik, Greenland, July 19, 2007. VOA

They say this suggests that the surface ice is simply melting as global temperatures rise.

“We knew we had one big problem with increasing rates of ice discharge by some large outlet glaciers,” said Michael Bevis, lead author of the paper and a professor of geodynamics at Ohio State University. “But now we recognize a second serious problem — increasingly, large amounts of ice mass are going to leave as meltwater, as rivers that flow into the sea.”

Researchers say the ice rate loss across Greenland has increased four-fold since 2003, which they say will lead to a greater sea level rise.

In the 20th century, Greenland has lost around 9,000 billion tons of ice in total, causing about 25 millimeters (1 inch) of sea level rise, according to National Geographic.

Scientists say if all of Greenland’s vast ice sheet were to melt, global sea levels would rise by 7 meters (23 feet) , flooding most coastal developments around the world.

Personnel stand aboard the Finnish icebreaker MSV Nordica as it arrives into Nuuk, Greenland, after traversing the Northwest Passage through the Canadian Arctic Archipelago, July 29, 2017.
Personnel stand aboard the Finnish icebreaker MSV Nordica as it arrives into Nuuk, Greenland, after traversing the Northwest Passage through the Canadian Arctic Archipelago, July 29, 2017. VOA

The latest study used data from NASA satellites, as well as GPS stations across Greenland, to analyze changes in ice mass.

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Researchers say the accelerated ice loss is caused by a combination of global warming, as well as the North Atlantic oscillation, a periodic weather phenomenon that brings warmer air to western Greenland.

Greenland’s much larger neighbor, the Antarctic ice sheet, is also losing ice faster than previously thought, according to a recent study in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. That study, published earlier this month, found that Antarctic melting has raised global sea levels 1.4 centimeters between 1979 and 2017. (VOA)

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2000-2019: The Hottest Decade Measured

US Experts: Last Decade was Hottest Ever Recorded

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Hottest decade global warming
Last year was the second hottest ever due to global warming. Pixabay

The last 10 years were the hottest decade ever measured on Earth, last year was the second warmest ever and NASA says “you haven’t seen anything yet.”

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration said Wednesday that the average global temperature in the 2010s was 14.7 degrees Celsius, with eight of the 10 hottest years ever recorded.

Parts of Africa, Asia, Australia, Europe and South America had record-high temperatures in 2019. Alaska’s average temperature was above freezing for the first time in recorded history.

Hottest decade global warming
People walk outside of the COP25 climate talks congress in Madrid, Spain. VOA

Many climate scientists who have seen the study said there was no other explanation for the record-breaking warming than human activity.

“This is going to be part of what we see every year until we stabilize greenhouse gases,” said Gavin Schmidt, head of NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies. “We crossed over into more than 2 degrees Fahrenheit warming territory in 2015 and we are unlikely to go back. This shows that what’s happening is persistent, not a fluke due to some weather phenomenon.”

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Experts say natural causes of a warmer atmosphere, including more heat from the sun and climate variations, are not big enough to explain the long-term temperature rise.

For those who still question global warming, the scientists say all one has to do is look at melting ice sheets, more powerful storms, floods in some parts of the world and drought in others as clear evidence. (VOA)