Science

Dismay as huge chunk of Greenland's ice cap breaks off

Dismay as huge chunk of Greenland's ice cap breaks off”

A 44-square-mile section of Greenland's ice shelf has broken off in the last two years, researchers said. From this past data, they found that the Arctic's average extent of September sea ice - the month when it reaches its annual minimum - is now 31% lower than the average seen during the first decade of satellite-based record keeping between 1979 and 1988.

"The rate of change is remarkable", said NCAR scientist Laura Landrum, the lead author of the study.

"The new climate can't be predicted by the previous climate", Landrum explained. And as climate change continues, scientists say the sea ice is unlikely to recover to past levels. Observations from local weather stations have shown that the average air temperatures have been consistently high for the past two years, creating the ideal circumstances for extended melt conditions.

All three variables - sea ice, temperatures and rainfall - are now being measured well beyond the range of past observations.

"Using nearly 30 years of satellite data, we see speed up in the glacier flow over the past decade". "The year-to-year variability, the change in many of these parameters, is moving outside the bounds of past fluctuations".

On top of this, it's thought the floating ice shelf is also being gently melted from beneath as well through warmer sea temperatures. By the end of the century, some Arctic regions are projected to see conditions that could bring rain instead of snow in any month of the year, even during the traditionally frigid winter.

More news: Crowds rally in New Zealand's Auckland against coronavirus lockdown

This vanishing of sea ice also contributes to the region's warming, as the icy white expanse is replaced by patches of dark water that absorb solar radiation rather than reflecting it back out of the atmosphere.

The models suggest that air temperatures over the ocean will enter a new climate by 2050, with air temperatures over land following in the second half of the century.

To answer these questions, they turned to multiple simulations from five of the world's leading climate models that have been used for an global research project known as the Coupled Model Intercomparison Project 5, or CMIP5.

GEUS also published satellite images showing the portions of the glacier that had broken off.

Speaking from the edge of the sea ice, onboard the Greenpeace ship Arctic Sunrise, Ms Meller said: "As the sea ice minimum in the Arctic is set to be one of the lowest ever recorded, another massive chunk of vital sea ice has fallen into the ocean". "All their distributions are changing", Thompson said. "We need to change our definition of what Arctic climate is".

"Other species certainly will not be able to survive in the future".



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