COPENHAGEN (Reuters) – Global warming has accelerated the melting of Greenland’s glaciers five-fold over the past 20 years, scientists from the University of Copenhagen said on Friday.
The melting ice in Greenland is of particular concern, as the ancient ice sheet contains enough water to raise sea levels by at least 20 feet (6 metres) if it melts completely.
Anders Anker Bjork, assistant professor at the Department of Earth Sciences and Natural Resource Management at the University of Copenhagen, told Reuters that a study of thousands of glaciers in the region showed that the rate of melting has entered a new phase over the past two decades.
“There is a very clear relationship between the temperature we are seeing on the planet and the changes we are observing in how quickly glaciers are melting,” Björk said.
The scientists concluded that glaciers are retreating on average by 25 meters per year, compared to 5-6 meters about two decades ago, after studying the evolution of glaciers over 130 years through satellite images and 200,000 old photographs.
The world has already risen about 1.2 degrees Celsius (2.2 Fahrenheit) above pre-industrial temperatures, and 2023 is “almost certain” to be the warmest year in 125,000 years, European Union scientists said earlier this month.
Jorgen Eivind Olsen, director of the Climate Institute at Aarhus University, said that lowering temperatures will require a global effort to reduce greenhouse gases in the atmosphere.
“I think we can be prepared for those glaciers to continue to melt at increasing speeds,” Olsen said.
Greenland’s glaciers are often used to predict the effects of climate change on the Greenland ice sheet.
“If we start to see glaciers losing mass several times faster than in the last century, that might make us expect that the ice sheet will follow the same path on a slower, longer time scale,” said William Colgan, lead researcher at the Geological Institute. The Denmark-Greenland Survey (GEUS) said.
The Greenland ice sheet contributed 17.3% of the observed sea level rise between 2006 and 2018, and glaciers contributed 21%. There are about 22,000 glaciers in Greenland.
Reporting by Johannes Birkbeck Editing by Barbara Lewis
Our standards: Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.
“Web maven. Infuriatingly humble beer geek. Bacon fanatic. Typical creator. Music expert.”