Greenland’s Ice Sheet Melts at Record Rate in 2019, Scientists Worry the Weather System that Caused it will Double the Rate of Sea Level Rise

Scientists published a study today that concluded that Greenland’s ice sheet melted at a record rate last summer due not just to the heat generated by general global warming but because of a high pressure area that brought lots of sunshine and warmer days to the region.

The researchers analyzed weather data and found that Greenland experienced 63 summer days ruled by the high pressure system, which is double the normal 28 days of high pressure logged between 1981 and 2010. This fueled the loss of 600 billion tons of water, which is estimated to contribute up to .06 inches of sea level rise globally.

The scientists worry that past predictions for the rate of ice sheet loss in Greenland did not take into consideration the impact high pressure areas could have on the rate of melting. If it speeds up, coastal areas with millions of inhabitants and trillions of dollars worth of real estate could be inundated a lot sooner than expected. Marco Tedesco, a researcher at Columbia University who led the study, told Reuters: “We’re destroying ice in decades that was built over thousands of years. What we do here has huge implications for everywhere else in the world.”

Greenland and Antarctica are home to the world’s largest ice sheets. If all the ice in Greenland melted, sea levels would rise by up to 23 feet.

Researchers say the study on high pressure and accelerated ice melt is further evidence that humans need to reduce the burning of fossil fuels to save coastal communities.

Rapid Retreat of an Antarctic Glacier Could Lead to Rapid Sea Level Rise

An Antarctic glacier has retreated nearly 3 miles in 22 years, and scientists worry that the rapid retreat could lead to climate-driven collapse.

Researchers studying radar data recorded by a satellite say the Denman Glacier in East Antarctica has been experiencing rapid melting. The pace could speed up even more if the glacier’s western slope, which has a deep trough and slope shape that makes it susceptible to rapid retreat, comes into play. If the whole glacier were to collapse into the sea, worldwide sea levels would rise by up to five feet.

Eric Rignot, a study co-author and scientist at the University of California, Irvine (UCI), told UCI News, “The ice in West Antarctica has been melting faster in recent years, but the sheer size of Denman Glacier means its potential impact on long-term sea level rise is just as significant.”

The researchers, whose study was published in Geophysical Research Letters, will continue to monitor the glacier.

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