Study: Melting Greenland ice will cause sea levels to rise nearly a foot

The Greenland Ice Sheet is poised to lose hundreds of trillions of metric tons of ice and contribute nearly a foot to average global sea level rise through 2100, regardless of magnitude reductions in greenhouse gas emissions over the period, glaciologists have found in a new study. published on Monday.

Why is this important: The study indicates that human-caused global warming driven by greenhouse gas emissions has effectively blocked some sea level rise due to the melting of the Greenland Ice Sheet.

  • Already with the sea level rise seen so far, coastal flooding is much more frequent in cities like Miami and Charleston, and future storms are expected to have more damaging storm surges.

By the numbers: The researchers estimated that the ice sheet would lose about 3.3% of its total volume this century, which corresponds to 110 trillion metric tons of ice and an average sea level rise of at least 270 millimeters, or 10.6 inches.

  • For comparison, that amount of ice loss could cover the entire United States with 37 feet of water, according to the study, published in the journal Nature Climate Change.

Our thought bubble, via Andrew Freedman of Axios: This study is important because it is based on observations over two decades of studying Greenland, rather than just computer modeling.

  • Moreover, the results illustrate how difficult it is to press the brakes on melting ice even if emissions were to come to a complete stop 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 offers low estimates of the future of the Greenland ice sheet because the world doesn’t will not instantly stop burning fossil fuels.

  • “That’s a very conservative minimum. Realistically, we’ll see that number more than double in this century,” Box said in a statement Monday.
  • “In the foreseeable scenario where global warming will only continue, the Greenland Ice Sheet’s contribution to sea level rise will only continue to increase,” he added.
  • “When we take the extreme melt year 2012 and consider it as a hypothetical average constant climate later in the century, the committed mass loss of the Greenland ice sheet more than doubled to 78 cm.” more than 30 inches by 2100.

Yes, but: The study also only estimated average sea level rise due to melting ice from the Greenland Ice Sheet and did not take into account the contribution of melting Antarctica or other glaciers in the world.

Go further: The Arctic is warming four times faster than the rest of the globe, new study finds

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