Ice sheet melting faster than ever


The meltdown of Greenland’s ice sheet has been speeding up since 2004 satellite measurements show melting at a rate of about 239 cubic kilometres per year.

These measurements came from NASA’s Grace (Gravity Recovery and Climate Experiment) satellite, which was launched in 2002.

Grace also detected a loss of ice from Greenland’s glaciers, although these measurements weren’t part of the study.

The new figure for melt is about three times higher than an earlier estimate of the loss from Greenland’s ice sheet, which was made using the first two years of Grace measurements.

“Acceleration of mass loss over Greenland, if confirmed, would be consistent with proposed increased global warming in recent years,” the authors wrote last week in Science.

If the ice cap completely disappears, global sea levels would rise by 6.5 m.

Most of the ice is being lost from eastern Greenland, says the article in Science.

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