For years, scientists have warned the world of the critical changes on the planet taking place due to global warming. New research stating that the point of no return has been reached for glaciers in Greenland.
It published in the journal Nature Communications Earth and Environment, the research mentions that the ice loss from Greenland’s glaciers to the oceans has reached a rate wherein the ice sheet will not replenish even if global warming was to stop today.
In the research, scientists show that widespread retreat between 2000 and 2005 resulted in a step-increase in discharge and a switch to a new dynamic state of sustained mass loss that would continue even if there is a decline in the amount of ice melting from the surface.
In short, the ice sheet on the glacier would now continue shrinking till its gone.
As per the research, the reason for this constant decline in ice sheet is the disparity between their rate of replenishment and melting. The study indicates that the snowfall that replenishes the ice sheet every year cannot keep up with the ice that is melting and flowing into the ocean from the glaciers.
To come to this conclusion, the researchers analyzed satellite data of 200 plus large glaciers that drain into the ocean around Greenland, every month. The data was observed to calculate the rate at which ice from the glaciers is draining into the oceans.
The analysis was then compared with the amount of snowfall received in the region every year. Snowfall is the only way for the glaciers to get replenished.
The research maps the timeline of the melting of these glaciers. A graph within the study shows that equilibrium was maintained between the two processes throughout the 1980s and 90s, thus keeping the ice sheet intact.
Through those decades, roughly around 450 gigatons of ice was lost from the ice sheet each year, which was ultimately replaced with snowfall in the region. This rate of ice discharge started rising rapidly in the 2000s.
Post-2010, the graph is pretty much stable at above 500 gigatons of ice discharge every year. Meanwhile, the amount of snowfall in the region remained the same, hence leading to the shrinking of the ice sheet.
Michalea King, the lead author of the study, said that large glaciers across Greenland have retreated about 3 kilometers on average since 1985. “That’s a lot of distance,” she was quoted as saying in a report by Ohio State News.