The second largest ice sheet in the world is melting faster in the past 20 or 30 years than in the past three centuries. Scientists have been observing a colossal ice sheet in Greenland shrink at an unprecedented rate due to global warming. This means that the sea level could rise sooner and faster than previously assumed.
A team of scientists journeyed to Greenland in 2015 to observe and measure the rate that the colossal ice sheets in the region are melting. They spent a total of five weeks in the area, drilling into the plains to collect tubes of ancient ice which, they said, has a record of the history of freezing and melting.
They found that gradual melting started in the late 1800s when large-scale coal burning became the norm. However, the melting of ice only ramped up in the past 20 to 30 years.
“We can show that the recent increase in melt and runoff from Greenland over the past two decades, in response to warming temperatures, is exceptional and unprecedented (‘off the charts’),” stated Sarah Das, a geologist at the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution and co-author of the study.
“We find that for every degree of warming, melting increases more and more — it outpaces the warming,” added Luke Trusel, a geologist from Rowan University and also an author of the study.
While melting colossal ice sheets are happening in Greenland, scientists warned that its effects will be felt around the world, especially by those living near the coasts. Greenland is already contributing 20 percent of global sea-level rise or 4 mm per year. If all the ice melts in the region, the global sea level is predicted to rise by 23 feet.
Dramatic melting of ice is also happening in the middle of the ice sheets, the report revealed. Melting creates pools of water on the surface of the ice sheet which absorbs more heat and, therefore, accelerates the rate in which ice is melting into the ocean.