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Study Suggests Greenland's Ice Sheet Has Melted Beyond Return

Study Suggests Greenland's Ice Sheet Has Melted Beyond Return

If all the ice melts it's expected to push sea levels up by roughly six metres

Rebecca Shepherd

Rebecca Shepherd

Greenland's ice sheet may have melted past the point of no return according to a study which looked into the impact of global warming.

Ohio State University scientists studied 234 glaciers in the Arctic territory for 34 years until 2018 and found that the ice in Greenland is likely to disappear regardless of how quickly we try to reduce emissions.

Satellite image, dated 12 June 2014, on multiple glaciers in Greenland. Scientist have discovered an increase in the melting of Greenland's ice sheet.

According to the research, the annual snowfall is no longer enough to replace the glaciers and ice that is lost in during the summer.

If the ice does disappear then the water from it would be expected to push the sea levels up by around six metres which is enough to swamp many coastal cities around the world, Sky News reports.

Michalea King, the lead author of the study and researcher at Ohio State University explained: "There's a lot of places, like in Florida especially, where one meter alone would cover a lot of existing land areas.

"And that's exacerbated when you get storms and hurricanes and things like that, that then cause extra surge on top of a higher baseline."


Co-researcher and glaciologist Ian Howat added that Greenland 'is going to be the canary in the coal mine, and the canary is already pretty much dead at this point'.

He went on: "We've passed the point of no return but there's obviously more to come.

"Rather than being a single tipping point in which we've gone from a happy ice sheet to a rapidly collapsing ice sheet, it's more of a staircase where we've fallen off the first step but there's many more steps to go down into the pit."

It's not just Greenland that is feeling the impact of climate change either. Two ice caps in the Canadian arctic have also disappeared with NASA imagery showing just that.

These satellite images show the location where the St. Patrick Bay ice caps used to exist. Left is from August 2015 and right is from July 2020.

National Snow and Ice Data Center (NSIDC) scientists predicted that the ice caps would melt out completely within the next five years, and recent images from NASA's Advanced Spaceborne Thermal Emission and Reflection Radiometer (ASTER) have confirmed that this prediction was accurate.

Mark Serreze, director of NSIDC, first set foot on the St. Patrick Bay ice caps in 1982 as a young graduate student. He said: "When I first visited those ice caps, they seemed like such a permanent fixture of the landscape. To watch them die in less than 40 years just blows me away."

Featured Image Credit: PA

Topics: Global Warming, climate change, News