Concerns about flooding risks as ice melting accelerates in Greenland

Concerns about flooding risks as ice melting accelerates in Greenland
Credit: Belga

The Greenland ice sheet has melted by some 3.5 trillion tonnes in 10 years, raising sea levels by a centimetre and increasing the risk of flooding around the world, according to a study published on Monday by Nature Communications.

Greenland has the second largest ice sheet after Antarctica, with a surface area of nearly 1.8 million km2.

The ice sheet covering Greenland is causing increased concerns among scientists, as global warming in the Arctic region is estimated to be three times faster than elsewhere in the world, according to the study.

The Arctic contains enough ice to theoretically raise the oceans by six to seven metres.

While numerous teams have investigated the evolution, this study by the journal Nature Communications is the first to be based on satellite observations by the European Space Agency, according to Belga News Agency.

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The study concludes that the melting has increased by 21% in 40 years, and has reached 3.5 trillion tons since 2011, with two-thirds of that amount occurring in the summers of 2012 and 2019 alone.

The data have highlighted significant variations in the melting rates, and that they are strongly influenced by heatwaves, even more so than by gradual warming.

“As elsewhere in the world, Greenland is vulnerable to an increase in extreme weather events,” said Thomas Slater, lead author of the study, from the University of Leeds in the UK.

Improved satellite observation technologies has allowed us to quickly and accurately estimate the rate of ice melting, and determine the effect this will in turn have on the sea levels, according to the researchers.

“The modelled estimates suggest that the Greenland ice sheet will contribute to up to 23 centimetres of sea level rise by 2100,” said Amber Leeson of Britain’s Lancaster University and co-author of the study.


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