Researches have found the Greenland Ice Sheet is melting three times as fast as it did during the entire 20th century.
The Greenland Ice Sheet is the second largest in the world. Satellite images reveal it has been melting since 1997 at an alarming rate, contributing to a significant rise in global sea levels.
Climate researchers from the centre for GeoGenetics along with national and international researchers collected about a century’s worth of data.
This is the first time information was collected through observation rather than through computer model-generated estimates.
The United Nations Climate Panel’s (IPCC) however, did not include the Greenland Ice Sheet as a contributing factor in their latest report from 2013. The reason is due to the lack of direct observation – information on thermal expansion of ocean water was also missing for similar reasons.
“If we do not know the contribution from all the sources that have contributed towards global sea level rise, then it is difficult to predict future global sea levels. In our paper we have used direct observations to specify the mass loss from the Greenland Ice Sheet and thereby highlight its contribution to global sea level rise”, said Kristian K. Kjeldsen from the centre for GeoGenetics at the University of Copenhagen in a statement.
The loss from the Greenland Ice Sheet between 1900 and 2010 accounts for 10 to 18 percent of total sea level rise according to the results published in the journal of ‘Nature’.
Associate Professor Shfaqat Abbas Khan, at the Technical University of Denmark (DTU) says the average melting rate has been the greatest in the past decade over 115 years of observation.
“We are one step further in mapping out the individual contributions to global sea level rise. In order to predict future sea level changes and have confidence in the projections, it is essential to understand what happened in the past ”, said senior author on the paper, Professor Kurt H. Kjær, from the centre for GeoGenetics in a statement. Kjær also says the data will be an important contributor in future IPCC reports.