Contemporary Study Portrays Just How Frantically Speedily Greenland Is Melting

Rivers of meltwater atop the Greenland ice sheet

These latest findings, as Nature pointed out, "bolster a study published in March that found that West Greenland is melting faster than it has in at least 450 years".

The scientists said their equipment provides more historical proof of how ice melting happened in the last 350 years or since the sample is taken underneath.

To determine the rate of Greenland ice melting over the past centuries, the team used a long drill to extract ice cores from the ice sheet in Greenland as well as from an adjacent coastal ice cap.

Greenland's ice sheet is melting faster than at any point in the last four centuries, researchers warn in a new study.

A United Nations report in October said that marine ice sheet instability in Antarctica and/or the irreversible loss of the Greenland ice sheet could result in a multi-metre rise in the sea level over hundreds to thousands of years.

"As a result, Greenland melt is adding to sea level more than any time during the last three-and-a-half centuries, if not thousands of years".

From these numbers, the researchers estimated that ice sheet-wide levels of meltwater runoff have jumped 50 per cent in the past 20 years compared with pre-industrial times.

Ice loss from Greenland is one of the biggest drivers of global sea level rise and threatens to cause devastating floods that could displace millions from their homes in coastal areas across the globe.

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As a next step, Das would like to collect more cores to expand the surface melt record elsewhere. Instead of escaping the ice sheet, the short-lived meltwater forms icy bands that stack up layers of densely packed ice over time. The melting and freezing cycle also makes ice below the surface less permeable, so more runoff is shunted to the ocean rather than trickling down into the ice sheet.

The core samples collected by the researchers were sent to the ice core labs in the USA where scientist determined the age and thickness of the melt layers.

The team was then able to use modern, precise measurements of melt and correlate those measurements with the pattern seen in the ice cores, which allowed them to estimate what melt at lower elevations across the island would have looked like in each year recorded in the high-elevation cores. Thicker melt layers represented years of higher melting, while thinner sections indicated years with less melting. For instance, 2012 was particularly intense, with 97% of the entire ice sheet experiencing surface melting for a few days.

The results from the ice cores were combined with observations from satellites and climate models.

Greenland's ice sheet is now melting at a rate that is "off the charts" compared with the last 350 years, a new study by scientists from Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI) has warned. The rate at which it is taking place jumped dramatically during the 20th to early 21st century.

This approach helps researchers update their tracking record, which indicates that ice sheets are melting at a faster pace than previously thought.

Besides Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, ice core samples were examined at the U.S. National Science Foundation Ice Core Facility in Denver, Wheaton College in Norton, Massachusetts, and the Desert Research Institute in Reno, Nevada.

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