A new study has revealed that between 2001 and 2011, the central-north region of Greenland experienced an average temperature increase of 1.5C compared to the 20th century. The research, published in the journal Nature, indicates that human activities are likely contributing to this warming and may be accelerating the loss of ice from the Greenland ice sheet. It’s worth noting that the ice sheet holds over 3 million cubic kilometers of water. If greenhouse gas emissions continue at their current rate, it’s estimated that the Greenland ice sheet will cause a global sea-level rise of 50 centimeters by 2100, potentially leading to flooding in many coastal areas around the world.
The scientists conducting the study examined data obtained from ice cores that spanned over a thousand years. Ice cores, which are cylindrical samples of ice drilled from the Greenland ice sheet, serve as a sort of frozen time capsule that allows researchers to examine the climate of the distant past. Dr. Maria Horhold, a glaciologist at the Alfred Wegener Institute in Germany and the lead author of the study, stated: “The time series we recovered from ice cores now continuously covers more than 1,000 years, from year 1000 to 2011.”
In addition to measuring temperature, the research team also determined the amount of ice melting from the ice sheet. The findings show that melting has greatly increased in Greenland since the early 2000s and is now making a substantial contribution to rising sea levels worldwide. Greenland is losing trillions of tonnes of ice every decade, and this loss is only accelerating.
With enough ice to cause a sea-level rise of 7 meters, the researchers warn that we are taking enormous risks with the future of human civilization and destabilizing the interconnected systems that are necessary for a stable and resilient planet, which is crucial for human well-being and equity for all. They also noted that the Atlantic Ocean current plays a role in the rainfall over the Amazon rainforest, which is one of the most important carbon sinks on Earth, and is currently drying out and losing its capacity to store carbon.