Gravity-weakening melting ice in Greenland to raise global sea levels by nearly a foot, study says
The expected rise in global sea levels around the world is likely coming regardless of what we do now to try and prevent it.
Startling new research suggests that ice is melting much faster than originally thought in Greenland, leading to a global sea level rise by at least 10 inches.
The research published in the science journal Nature Climate Change also reported that some areas could see a sea level rise of between 13 to 20 inches or even as high as 30 inches by the year 2100.
And to make that statistic even more worrisome is that at least one scientist believes it will happen even if we take action now to try and prevent it.
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"Ice flows from the center of the ice sheet out to the edges or margins," said glaciologist William Colgan. "And as we see the accumulation area of the ice sheet contract over these past decades, it lets less ice flow out to the edges."
As a result, Colgan said, the ice around the edges of the ice sheet is being starved from inflowing ice.
"The Greenland ice sheet is losing so much mass right now, about 10,000 metric tons per second, day in and day out," he said. "It's actually weakening its gravity over Greenland and is causing the sea level to fall and seawater to be released from Greenland to flow to other areas of the world."
And that, according to Colgan, will lead to the anticipated sea level rises.
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"So, when we look ahead in the future, we see it's unsustainable," he said. "And the ice sheet is now committed to lose about three percent of its volume, or 10 inches of sea level rise to come into equilibrium with this new climate we've created."
This activity is also occurring a lot quicker than anticipated.
"This study is one of a long line of studies that basically revises our estimate for the Greenland ice sheet sea level rise contribution through time," Colgan said. "If you ask us again in five years, it will probably be a bigger number."
And the expected rise in global sea levels around the world is likely coming regardless of what we do now to try and prevent it.
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"This 10 inches, it's coming no matter what, regardless of future climate trajectory," Colgan said. "It's a sort of debt of sea level rise that we've built up through our last decade of climate change. So, we're on the hook for this 10 inches no matter what."
Colgan said that depending on where you live in the world will have a significant effect on how dramatically sea levels will change.
"It will be the areas farthest away from Greenland that receive a disproportionately high percent of this sea level contribution," Colgan said. "In recent years, it's been the equatorial West Pacific Islands that have been receiving about two to three times the global average rate of sea level rise, and it will probably continue that way into the future."