Rising temperatures mean the Greenland ice sheet is fading. If the ice completely disappeared, global sea levels could rise by seven meters.
The more the ice sheet sinks, the faster the ice melts, as the air is warmer at lower altitudes.
A new study from Arctic University and the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research says a collapse equivalent to one to two meters of sea level increase may indeed be inevitable.
When the ice has reached a critical level, it can be impossible to prevent the entire ice sheet from melting. The uncertainties in the study mean that researchers do not know when the tipping point has been reached – whether the critical phase has already occurred or will happen in the coming decades.
We stand on the edge of a precipice and every year that carbon dioxide emissions continue as usual, the stakes increase dramatically until we reach the breaking point, Niklas Bowers, one of the researchers behind the study, tells the newspaper.
Researchers have analyzed the shape of levels of ice and snowmelt since 1880 with the help of, among other things, ice samples and historical temperature data.
The height of the falling ice sheet appears to be the biggest cause of faster and faster melting of ice, but other factors play a role as well. For example, reduced snowfall results in a darker surface of the ice sheet which attracts more heat from the sun.
He wants to observe the snow
According to the researchers, closely studying the ice sheet is important.
It is important to get a better understanding of how the various positive and negative mechanisms that determine ice sheet stability and continuous evolution interact, Nicklas Bowers tells the Guardian.