STUDY: Greenland ice sheet set to raise sea levels by nearly a foot

New research suggests the massive ice sheet is already set to lose more than 3 percent of its mass, even if the world stopped emitting greenhouse gases today.

The story by Chris Mooney in The Washington Post on August 29, 2022 is yet another clarion call for immediate action on greenhouse gases affecting climate change.

Human-driven climate change has set in motion massive ice losses in Greenland that couldn’t be halted even if the world stopped emitting greenhouse gases today, according to a study published Monday. The findings in the journal Nature Climate Change project that it is now inevitable that 3.3 percent of the Greenland ice sheet will melt — equal to 110 trillion tons of ice, the researchers said. That will trigger nearly a foot of global sea-level rise.

Greenland ice sheet set to raise sea levels by nearly a foot, study finds | by Chris Mooney | The Washington Post | August 29, 2022

Reading further we find technical data from the report found here (PDF)

ABSTRACT
Ice loss from the Greenland ice sheet is one of the largest sources of contemporary sea-level rise (SLR). While process-based models place timescales on Greenland’s deglaciation, their confidence is obscured by model shortcomings including imprecise atmospheric and oceanic couplings. Here, we present a complementary approach resolving ice sheet disequilibrium with climate constrained by satellite-derived bare-ice extent, tidewater sector ice flow discharge and surface mass balance data. We find that Greenland ice imbalance with the recent (2000–2019) climate commits at least 274 ± 68 mm SLR from 59 ± 15 × 103 km2 ice retreat, equivalent to 3.3 ± 0.9% volume loss, regardless of twenty-first-century climate pathways. This is a result of increasing mass turnover from precipitation, ice flow discharge and meltwater run-off. The high-melt year of 2012 applied in perpetuity yields an ice loss commitment of 782 ± 135 mm SLR, serving as an ominous prognosis for Greenland’s trajectory through a twenty-first century of warming.” (Emphasis added)

“A one-foot rise in global sea levels would have severe consequences. If the sea level along the U.S. coasts rose by an average of 10 to 12 inches by 2050, a recent report from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration found, the most destructive floods would take place five times as often, and moderate floods would become 10 times as frequent.”

Greenland ice sheet set to raise sea levels by nearly a foot, study finds | by Chris Mooney | The Washington Post | August 29, 2022
Click here to view the Full Sea Level Rise Technical Report (111-page PDF)

“Greenland is the world’s largest island and is covered with a sheet of ice that, if it melted entirely, could raise sea levels by more than 20 feet. That is not in doubt — nor is the fact that in past warm periods in Earth’s history, the ice sheet has been much smaller than it is today. The question has always been how much ice will thaw as temperatures rise — and how fast.”

Greenland ice sheet set to raise sea levels by nearly a foot, study finds | by Chris Mooney | The Washington Post | August 29, 2022

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