Climate Change: Greenland

Greenland’s massive ice sheet has melted by a record amount this year. It has lost enough ice to raise the average global sea levels by over a millimetre. Scientists and researchers say they are anxiously astounded by how quickly ice has melted this year; they, therefore, worry about the effects it would have on the years to come.

Scientists have discovered that one glacier called the “Qaleraliq Glacier” has melted 100 metres of ice from 2004.

Ice in 1993
Ice in 2018

Why does this matter?

Greenland’s ice sheet is about seven times the area of the UK and has a thickness of up to 2-3km, so if it all melted it would raise global sea levels up by 7 metres! This could impact millions of people who live around or below sea levels, like Bangladesh, Florida and Eastern England. It would also change the landscape and shape of cliffs and coastlines.

Chart showing how the mass of the Greenland ice sheet has changed since 2003

How much is Greenland Melting?

In 2016-17 there was a gain in ice but that was unusual occurance. Over the last 3 decades, Greenland’s ice sheets have tended to deteriorate. The ice that melts either melts on the surface or breaks away as icebergs and slowly melts.

In 2012, 450 billion tonnes of ice was lost and this year is predicted to be worse and could lead to the sea level rising by 2mm.

While this is happening, Antartica is also experiencing a great loss of ice every year and of this raises the level of the oceans.

What is happening to the ice?

When the ice melts, the area that it sits on is full of grim and dark, mud and silt. It only gets darker, scientists say as algae are proliferating the melting ice. As more ice melts, the grey, dark surface because of its bright white algae makes it less reflective and so it accelerates the warming and causes more ice to melt.

Post Author: Han Yeo