Ice Mass Loss from Greenland Will Continue Even After Stabilized

Nature, Communications Earth & Environment, August 13

Acceleration of outlet glaciers from the Greenland ice sheet, not compensated by accumulation above makes it the current largest contributor to sea level rise. Through the 1980s and 1990s, losses through iceberg calving and melting were replaced by snowfall, keeping the ice sheet in balance. However, starting in the early 2000s, the retreat and acceleration of these glaciers surpassed gains through snow accumulation, making the ice sheet lose 14% more mass annually (60 Gt on average) than was replenished by snow. The authors conclude that these large glaciers will continue retreating for some time, even should temperatures stabilize at today’s levels; but the speed at which this loss continues directly depends on how rapidly our air and oceans continue warming.

Compiled by Amy Imedieke