Covid-19

Greenland Just Lost 600 Billion Tons Of Ice

Rising temperatures have been melting ice faster than ever in the world’s coldest regions. A new study found that Greenland lost 600 billion tons of ice just in the summer in 2019, which increased global sea levels by 2.2 mm in just two months.

The study, published in the journal Geophysical Research Letters, analyzed data from NASA’s Gravity Recovery and Climate Experiment. Researchers said the findings should help guide efforts to address the effects of climate change. 

The Arctic experienced its hottest year on record in 2019, The Guardian reported. Abnormally high temperatures cause larger and faster ice loss in the region, which contribute to sea level rise and put many coastal cities and towns around the world at risk of flooding.

Greenland lost an average of 268 billion tons of ice between 2002 and 2019. That figure was less than half of what was lost last summer because of significantly high temperatures. 

“We knew this past summer had been particularly warm in Greenland, melting every corner of the ice sheet, but the numbers are enormous,” Isabella Velicogna, lead study author and a professor of Earth system science at University of California Irvine, said. 

The latest data also indicates that Greenland has already been losing ice seven times faster than it did in the 1990s. The increase also causes faster global sea level rise and puts 400 million people at risk of flooding every year by end of the century.

Antarctica is facing the same problem because of global warming. But researchers said winter has been helping reduce the effects of extreme temperatures on the largest ice sheet on Earth.  

“In Antarctica, the mass loss in the west proceeds unabated, which is very bad news for sea level rise,” Velicogna said. “But we also observe a mass gain in the Atlantic sector of east Antarctica caused by an increase in snowfall, which helps mitigate the enormous increase in mass loss that we’ve seen in the last two decades in other parts of the continent.”

The researchers hope that government leaders will continue efforts to address climate change amid the COVID-19 pandemic. The growing health issue caused by the novel coronavirus has delayed climate talks scheduled for 2020. 

Greenland Iceberg The village of Ilulissat is seen near the icebergs that broke off from the Jakobshavn Glacier on July 24, 2013 in Ilulissat, Greenland. Joe Raedle/Getty Images

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