2019 was one of the warmest summers on record, it was so warm that it helped trigger the loss of 600bn tons of ice from Greenland. So much ice that it was enough to raise the worlds sea levels by a whopping 2.2mm in just a couple months. A new study has found.
The analysis of satellite data has shown the astounding loss of ice in just a small amount of time of extremely high temperatures across the north pole. The arctic in 2019 displayed one of its hottest years on record, with the annual minimum extent of sea ice in the region its second lowest on record to date.
Unlike the retreat of sea ice, the loss of land-based glaciers also directly caused the seas to rise, thus, imperiling coastal cities and towns around the world. Furthermore, scientists have calculated that the massive ice sheet in Greenland lost roughly 268 billion tons of ice between 2002 and 2019. By contrast, LA consumes 1 billion tons of water, a staggering number for a county that holds 10 million residents.
Professor of Earth system science at the University of California Irvine and lead author of the new study said, “We knew this past summer had been particularly warm in Greenland, melting every corner of the ice sheet, but the numbers are enormous.”
Not just in Greenland, Glaciers are melting at gastronomical rates around the world due to global heating caused by human induced climate (change) crisis. As the colour white is usually a reflector, the ice follows suit. As the sunlight retreats after hitting the surface, the dark surfaces underneath absorb yet more heat leading to ice melting acceleration.
The heat is causing ice to to retreat from Greenland seven times faster than it was in the 90s. Scientists addressed this last year unraveling previous estimates of global sea level rise and subsequently endangering up to 400 million people with risks of flooding every year by the end of this century.
Research found that the largest ice sheet on earth, aka Antarctica, is also losing mass at an exponential rate. However, work from University of California and Nasa revealed nuanced images.
The mass loss in the west region of Antarctica proceeds unabated, which is bad news for sea level rise. We also observed a mass gain in the Atlantic sector of east Antarctica, which helps mitigate the increase in mass loss that we’ve seen in the last 20 years in various parts of the continent.
The study further showed the existential dangers posed by runaway global heating, even as the world’s attention is shocked by the current Covid-19 pandemic.
A runaway greenhouse effect is when there is enough of a greenhouse gas in a planet’s atmosphere such that the gas blocks thermal radiation from the planet, preventing the planet from cooling and from having liquid water on its surface.
Crucial talks about the climate are set to take place towards the latter end of the year in Glasgow. However, with the coronavirus crisis, the wave of cancellations triggered by the virus threatens this global diplomatic effort.
Credit: Oliver Milman – The Guardian