Greenland's Ice Sheet Unstable and Rapidly Melting as Rise in World Sea Levels Accelerate

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By Reissa Su | March 18, 2014 6:28 PM EST

Greenland's ice sheet is rapidly melting and no longer stable. According to a new study, the rise in sea levels will begin to accelerate because of Greenland's thinning ice sheet. Scientists have already known that Greenland's ice sheet has been melting for decades.

Reuters
An aerial view of a crack at the Pine Island Glacier ice shelf is seen in western Antarctica, October 26, 2011.

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However, this was the first time that they've discovered that the melting is also happening in the northern region of the world's second biggest ice sheet. The findings revealed that the ice loss in Greenland's northern region has almost tripled.

Michael Bevis, the study's co-author and Earth Sciences professor at Ohio State University, has seen rapid ice loss. Professor Bevis said more ice is leaving Greenland than snow arriving to take the place of lost ice. He said the accelerating ice loss in the northeast region is a surprise to the research team.

Greenland's ice sheet covers 80 per cent of the country's surface and is second only to Antarctica in size. The melting Greenland ice sheet has been a major contributor to the rise of sea levels around the world in the last two decades.

According to the study published in the Nature Climate Change journal, Greenland's ice loss has been responsible for one-sixth of the world's annual rise in sea levels.  Scientists associate the rapid ice loss to increasing air temperatures. An outlet glacier located in the northeast part of Greenland has declined 12.4 miles in the last 10 years. Scientists said the rate is faster than southwest Greenland's Jakobshavnglacier's decline of 21.7 miles in the last 150 years.

Scientists have discovered that Greenland's ice sheet has become unstable in 2003. Several hot summers also contributed to melting and calving events which also led to chunks of ice falling from glaciers.

The study also revealed that Greenland's northeast region had lost 10 billion tonnes of ice per year between April 2003 and April 2012. As a result, more water is flowing into the world's oceans.

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(Photo: Reuters / )
An aerial view of a crack at the Pine Island Glacier ice shelf is seen in western Antarctica, October 26, 2011.
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