Global warming could keep eastern Arctic cool



Within the next 100 years, global warming may melt much of the ice sheet over Greenland. But this meltwater may eventually insulate the island and the eastern Arctic from further climate change, the journal Nature reports.

The model predicts that Greenland could be about 4° C warmer by 2080. The resulting melting could raise sea level by five centimetres. Being fresh, the meltwater would float in a pool on the surface of the North Atlantic’s salty water.

After 2080, however, this freshwater pool might stop the warming effect over Greenland by blocking the Gulf Stream of warmer water that flows toward the North Atlantic.

If this were to happen, northern Europe might cool by up to 3° C, and northern Canada by up to 5° C. At the same time, temperatures over Greenland may plunge 10° C.

“Greenhouse warming may stop the Greenland Ice Sheet from melting in the end,” said Philippe Huybrechts of the Free University of Brussels at a meeting last week in Nice, France.

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