Sea levels might rise much faster than thought, data from Greenland suggest
TEDD Group


Posted On: November 11, 2022

Sea levels might rise much faster than thought, data from Greenland suggest

Greenland’s largest ice sheet is thawing at a much higher rate than expected, a new study has revealed, suggesting it will add six times more water to the rising sea levels than previously thought. And the trend may not be limited to Greenland, scientists worry.

The study used GPS measurements and computer modeling to estimate how much ice is being lost due to climate change from the Northeast Greenland Ice Stream (NEGIS), a prominent ice flow that drains ice and meltwater from Greenland’s inland ice-covered basin. 

The calculations revealed that, since 2012, NEGIS melting has been speeding up so much that by the end of this century, it will add more than 0.5 inches (1.3 centimeters) of water to the global ocean level. That’s equivalent to the past 50 years’ worth of Greenland’s entire contribution to sea level rise.

The NEGIS ice-melt acceleration started after the Zachariae Isstrøm glacier that protected the coastal part of the ice stream broke off in 2012, allowing warmer sea water to penetrate deeper inland. The new data has revealed that the wave of rapid ice-thinning triggered by this incident propagated much deeper upstream than previously thought. Scientists were able to measure the thinning as far as 186 miles (300 kilometers) from Greenland’s northeastern coast where NEGIS meets the ocean.

“Many glaciers have been accelerating and thinning near the margin in recent decades — GPS data helped us detect how far inland these changes happening near the coast propagate,” study co-author Mathieu Morlighem, a professor of Earth Sciences at Dartmouth College in New Hampshire, said in a statement(opens in new tab). “If this is correct, the contribution of ice dynamics to overall mass loss on Greenland will be larger than what current models suggest.”

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