The Greenland ice sheet is on track to lose hundreds of trillions of tons of ice and contribute nearly a foot to average global sea level rise through 2100, regardless of the magnitude of the reduction in greenhouse gas emissions over the period, glaciologists found in a new study Monday. published.
Why it matters: The study indicates that human-induced global warming, caused by greenhouse gas emissions, has effectively locked in some measure of sea level rise from the melting of the Greenland ice sheet.
- With sea levels rising thus far, coastal flooding is much more common in cities like Miami and Charleston, and future storms are expected to have more damaging storm surges.
By the numbers: The researchers estimate that the ice sheet will lose about 3.3% of its total volume during this century, which is equivalent to 110 trillion tons of ice and an average global sea level rise of at least 270 millimeters, or 10.6 inches.
- By comparison, that amount of ice loss could cover the entire U.S. with 37 feet of water, finds the study, published in the journal Nature Climate Change.
our thought bubble, via Axios’ Andrew Freedman: This study is important because it is based on observations made over two decades of studying Greenland, rather than just computer modeling.
- In addition, the findings illustrate how difficult it is to brake on ice melt, even if emissions were to stop completely now.
What they say: Jason Box, the study’s lead author and a professor at the National Geological Survey of Denmark and Greenland (GEUS), said the study actually puts forward low estimates about the future of the Greenland ice sheet, as the world won’t stop immediately. burning fossil fuels.
- “It’s a very conservative minimum. Realistically, we will more than double this figure within this century,” Box said in a statement Monday.
- “In the foreseeable scenario that global warming will only continue, the contribution of the Greenland ice sheet to sea level rise will only continue to increase,” he added.
- “If we take the extreme melt year 2012 and take it later this century as a hypothetical average constant climate, the massive loss of the Greenland ice sheet has more than doubled to 78 cm,” or more than 30 inches by 2100.
Yes but: The study also only estimated the average sea level rise due to the melting of ice from the Greenland ice sheet and did not take into account how the melting of Antarctica or other glaciers around the world might also contribute.
Go deeper: Arctic is warming four times faster than the rest of the world, says new study