Greenland Ice Sheet Loss Picking up Speed
16.11.2009 - Ice & Snow, Other, Arctic
Scientists at the University of Bristol have been able to use both observations from the Gravity Recovery and Climate Mission (GRACE) satellite and the Regional Atmospheric Climate Model (RACMO2/GR) at high resolution to independently confirm an accelerated mass loss of the Greenland Ice Sheet. Their research, published in Science, shows the mass loss on the ice sheet has been equally distributed between greater iceberg production driven by faster-moving glaciers and increased meltwater production on the surface of the ice sheet.
The Greenland Ice Sheet been losing increasingly more mass since the late 1990's, and this trend is likely to continue in the near future. The ice sheet has been losing about 1,500 Gt in total since 2000, which is equivalent to a 5 mm sea level rise in the past nine years. Recent warm summers between 2006 and 2008 have further accelerated ice loss to 273 Gt a year, which represents about 0.75 mm of annual global sea level rise.
While increased ice melt has been taking place since about 1996, increased snowfall over the same period has been masking surface mass losses for a decade. Had these moderating events not occurred, the amount of mass loss would have been double that which we are currently witnessing.
If the entire Greenland Ice Sheet were to melt it would raise sea level by about 7 metres.