Science/Tech

Global Warming 2019: Greenland Melting At Alarming Rate, Researchers Say

More cities across the world are now at risk of experiencing the impacts of rising sea levels as Greenland, home to Earth’s second-largest ice sheet, has been losing giant chunks of ice due to climate change. These vulnerable cities include New York, Miami and Los Angeles. 

A new study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences warns that ice has been melting at an accelerated rate in the country over the past decades, which already made a significant contribution to sea level rise. As the island continues to suffer from global warming, more coastal cities around the world are at risk, including Tokyo and Mumbai.

About 40 percent to 50 percent of the world’s population reside in cities that are vulnerable to sea rise, CNN reported Monday.

The findings come from the analysis of digitally reconstructed Greenland ice sheet that showed the amount of ice that has been discharged into the ocean in the past 46 years. Researchers found that the rate of ice loss increase sixfold, at a speed faster than scientists previously thought.

"We wanted to get a long precise record of mass balance in Greenland that included the transition when the climate of the planet started to drift off natural variability, which occurred in the 1980s," Eric Rignot, co-author of the study and a professor of Earth system science at the University of California, Irvine, told CNN. "The study places the recent (20 years) evolution in a broader context to illustrate how dramatically the mass loss has been increasing in Greenland in response to climate warming."

He also noted that the glaciers across the island are already flowing faster and breaking into icebergs, which are expected to contribute to sea level rise “more rapidly every year." Greenland’s glaciers were found dumping nearly 51 billion tons of ice into the ocean between 1980 and 1990 and that the figure increased to 286 billion tons between 2010 and 2018, The Washington Post reported.

Since 1972, ice loss from Greenland added 13.7 millimeters of water to the global sea level. Experts predict that the island's ice sheet may soon become the leading source of water added to the ocean every year, contributing up to 23 feet to the sea level. 

"We ought to be prepared for this and also take urgent action to slow down the melt down," Rignot said.

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