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PASADENA, CA: A study published in Nature has found the Greenland Ice Sheet lost 20 percent more ice over the past four decades than previously thought.

The conclusion follows a 2023 study in Earth System Science suggesting ice losses from Antarctica and Greenland increased six-fold between the 1990s and 2010s with serious implications for global weather patterns, ocean circulation, ecosystems and food security.

The Nature authors analysed four decades of satellite data to discover Greenland has lost more than one trillion tons of ice along its margins since 1985 due to glacier retreat - a figure that doesn’t include surface melt on the ice sheet itself.

Greenland now releases 30 million tons of ice every hour, raising concerns the amount of freshwater pouring into the north Atlantic could trigger slowdown or collapse of the Atlantic Meridional Overturning Circulation (AMOC), a major system of ocean currents.

Subsequent research published in Science magazine this month concludes the AMOC is fast reaching a tipping point and its sudden collapse will dramatically change the redistribution of heat (and salt) resulting in a cooling of the Northern Hemisphere by over 3.0°C per decade.

“In comparison with the present-day global mean surface temperature trend due to climate change of about 0.2°C per decade, no realistic adaptation measures can deal with such rapid temperature changes under an AMOC collapse,” the authors warn.

The U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration notes an AMOC slowdown or collapse due to melting freshwater from the North Pole, Greenland and Antarctica would “shift the rain belt in South Africa, causing droughts for millions of people. It would also cause sea level rise across the U.S. East Coast.”

https://www.nature.com/articles/s41586-023-06863-2
https://www.science.org/doi/10.1126/sciadv.adk1189
https://www.earth-system-science-data.net/about/news_and_press/2023-04-20_mass-balance-of-the-greenland-and-antarctic-ice-sheets-from-1992-to-2020.html
Story Type: News

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