Approximate 40 years satellite data from Greenland ice show that glaciers on the land melting so much even is global warming were to stop today still it would continue to melt.
Article published in the journal Nature Communications Earth and Environment, Greenland glaciers have reaching pin point of sorts, ice which is melting each year cannot keep up with the ice that is flowing into the ocean from glaciers.
From the University of Ohio.
They are using remote sensing observations to study how ice discharge and accumulation have varied, said by one of the leading author and researcher Michalea king, at Ohio state University’s Byrd Polar and Climate Research Center. He found that ice discharging into the ocean is far surpassing the snow that’s accumulating on the surface of the ice sheet.
King and his colleague analyzed each month satellite data from more than 200 large glaciers draining into the ocean. There research shows that how much glaciers drained into ocean. They also showed that how much glacier vanish each year.
The researchers found that, throughout the 1980s and 90s, snow gained through accumulation and ice melted or calved from glaciers were mostly in balance, keeping the ice sheet intact.
450 gigatons Greenland ice melting each year.
Through those decades, the researchers found, the ice sheets generally lost about 450 gigatons (about 450 billion tons) of ice each year from flowing outlet glaciers, which was replaced with snowfall.
“We are measuring the pulse of the ice sheet — how much ice glaciers drain at the edges of the ice sheet — which increases in the summer.
And what we see is that it was relatively steady until a big increase in ice discharging to the ocean during a short five- to six-year period,” King said.
“Glacier retreat has knocked the dynamics of the whole ice sheet into a constant state of loss,” said Ian Howat, a co-author on the paper, professor of earth sciences and distinguished university scholar at Ohio State.
“Even if the climate were to stay the same or even get a little colder, the ice sheet would still be losing mass.”
Shrinking glaciers in Greenland are a problem for the entire planet. The ice that melts or breaks off from Greenland’s ice sheets ends up in the Atlantic Ocean — and, eventually, all of the world’s oceans.
Ice from Greenland is a leading contributor to sea level rise — last year, enough ice melted or broke off from the Greenland ice sheet to cause the oceans to rise by 2.2 millimeters in just two months.
The new findings are bleak, but King said there are silver linings.
“It’s always a positive thing to learn more about glacier environments, because we can only improve our predictions for how rapidly things will change in the future,” she said. “And that can only help us with adaptation and mitigation strategies.
The more we know, the better we can prepare.”
This work was supported by grants from NASA. Other Ohio State researchers who worked on this study are Salvatore Candela, Myoung Noh and Adelaide Negrete.