Greenland Ice Sheet is Melting at a Historically High Rate

Image of Greenland’s ice melt by NASA, via Flickr.

Maxwell Bernstein | October 2, 2020

Research that was published in Nature shows that the Greenland Ice Sheet is melting at some of the fastest rates since the Holocene because of rising global temperatures. 

The largest pre-industrial rate for mass loss occurred in the early Holocene, the title for the last 11,700 years of Earth’s history since the end of the ice age, with around 6,000 billion tonnes of mass lost per century.  

If humans manage to maintain warming within 2 degrees Celsius by the end of the century, the current goal for the Paris Agreement, the Greenland Ice Sheet is expected to lose 8,800 billion tonnes over the 21rst-century.

If humans continue to produce the high greenhouse gas emissions we see today, the Greenland Ice Sheet is expected to lose 35,900 Billion tons of mass over the 21rst-century. 

“In addition to storm surges and high tides that will increase flooding in many regions, sea level rise exacerbates events like hurricanes,” NASA said in an article that described the implications of Greenland’s ice loss. “Greenland’s shrinking ice sheet also speeds up global warming. The vast expanse of snow and ice helps cool down Earth by reflecting the Sun’s rays back into space. As the ice melts and retreats, the region absorbs more solar radiation, which warms the planet.”