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Greenland’s ice sheet is melting so fast, it’s raising sea levels and creating global flood risk

Greenland’s ice sheet is melting so fast, it’s raising sea levels and creating global flood risk


Greenland’s ice sheet, the biggest ice sheet in the world behind Antarctica, has melted so much in the past decade that global sea levels rose by 1 centimeter, and trends predict sea levels can rise nearly a foot higher by the end of the century.


Greenland’s ice sheet, the biggest ice sheet in the world behind Antarctica, has melted so much in the past decade that global sea levels rose by 1 centimeter, and trends predict sea levels can rise nearly a foot higher by the end of the century.

Research published in the journal Nature Communications on Monday says 3.5 trillion tons of Greenland’s ice sheet melted from 2011 to 2020, which would be enough to flood all of New York City in 14,700 feet of water.

The ice sheet covers more than 656,000 square miles,  and if it were to fully melt, the global sea level would rise about 20 feet, according to the National Snow and Ice Date Center. While much of the ice sheet remains intact, researchers from the University of Leeds Centre for Polar Observation and Modelling in Northern England found it is melting at an exceptional rate, increasing 21% in the past 40 years.

“Observations show that extreme melt events in Greenland have become more frequent and more intense – as well as more erratic – which is a global problem,” Lin Gilbert, co-author of the study, said in a statement

2021 will mark one of the biggest ice melt years for Greenland in history.
2021 will mark one of the biggest Ice Melt years in Greenland’s history. Mario Tama/Getty Images

The team used satellite data from the European Space Agency to estimate the elevation of the ice sheet, the first time a space object has been used to do so. The team found that from 2011 to 2020, the runoff of Greenland’s ice sheet averaged about 357 billion tons a year.

That would, on average, raise the global sea level about 1 millimeter a year, but during that time, two years – 2012 and 2019 – experienced exceptionally more runoff than others as extreme weather led to, “record-breaking levels of ice melting.” In 2019, the runoff was about 527 billion tons.

The discovery comes after the National Snow and Ice Date Center said the sheet’s summer melt increased by 30% from 1979 to 2006 because of higher temperatures.

“Greenland is also vulnerable to an increase in extreme weather events,” said lead author Thomas Slater. “As our climate warms, it’s reasonable to expect that the instances of extreme melting in Greenland will happen more often – observations such as these are an important step in helping us to improve climate models and better predict what will happen this century.”

Slater added there are reasons to feel optimistic about not losing as much ice in the future, but his colleague and co-author, Amber Leeson, painted a dark future. Leeson said that by 2100, the global sea level can rise anywhere from 1 to 9 inches because of melting, which could be dangerous to coastal cities around the world.

“This prediction has a wide range, in part because of uncertainties associated with simulating complex ice melt processes, including those associated with extreme weather,” she said.

Although it was not included in the study, evidence shows that this past summer was already a significant one for the ice sheet. In August, it rained on the summit for the first time since weather recording began there in 1950.

Not only that, but temperatures on the summit, which is 10,551 feet above sea level, were above freezing for more than nine hours, the fourth time it had ever been documented but third time since 2012. The rain and warmer temperatures resulted in an estimated 7 billion tons of rainfall on the ice sheet.

Source:

Jordan Mendoza at USA Today



Four ways Extreme E is leaving a positive legacy in Greenland

Four ways Extreme E is leaving a positive legacy in Greenland


Ahead of the racing action getting underway in Greenland this weekend (28-29 August), Extreme E has continued its efforts in scientific education and local community Legacy Programmes.


Earlier in the week members of the championship’s Scientific Committee, Professors Peter Wadhams, Carlos Duarte and Richard Washington led an expedition to the retreating ice cap to explain to the series’ world-class drivers the devastation the climate crisis is having on this area and the solutions we can all take to limit further damage. Not only that, the drivers also took samples from the ice cap to support Professor Peter Wadhams’ research.

Sara Price, driver for Chip Ganassi Racing said: “Being on the ice cap was an adventure of a lifetime, to say the least. It was very cold up there and it actually ended up raining while we were there, which is an unfortunate occurrence. Rainfall is only a recent thing on the ice cap, and it’s very abnormal because it should be snowing up there. The fact that it’s raining is a bad sign for the ice cap and has led to increased melting and a lot of running water. We got to witness that firsthand.

“It was wild to say the least to see it right in front of us; the ice breaking off, the pollution, and the glacier itself melting at a fast rate and causing rivers and ravines and an overall crazy environment. Its rivers of glacier water are melting fast and causing powerful consequences. It was something to see, that’s for sure, and definitely made it even more real in our eyes, that global climate change is a real thing.”

In every location Extreme E races in, its goal is to work with local community groups to leave a positive, lasting legacy behind, based on specific local needs.

One of the main Legacy Programmes in Greenland is centred around education and supporting local schools. Extreme E has partnered with UNICEF to develop – with support from Professor Richard Washington – educational resources to further the understanding of both teachers and children on climate related issues and the ways in which they can help to address them. These will be taught to the children of Greenland starting from Climate Week in September 2021.

Maliina Abelsen, Head of Programmes, UNICEF Greenland said: “At UNICEF, we know that climate and environmental shocks are undermining the complete spectrum of children’s rights – from access to clean air, food and safe water; to education, housing, freedom from exploitation, and even their right to survive. Virtually no child’s life will be unaffected.

“Over the years, children and young people have shown us that their incredible knowledge and strength by promoting environmentally sustainable lifestyles and setting an example for their communities. Through education programmes, such as this one, we hope that children and young people can take further leadership in addressing climate-related risks.”

In addition, XITE ENERGY RACING Founder, driver and sustainability pioneer Oliver Bennett, along with eco-smart technology business myenergi, and with the support of Extreme E, has installed a revolutionary solar power set-up. The school is now home to a 5kW ground-mounted solar array with an accompanying 5.2kWh battery storage system, which means the education hub will now run on solar power.  

Headteacher Susanne Andersen said: “XITE ENERGY RACING’s solar system will introduce renewable energy to our school. It is not just important that we fight climate change here in Greenland but also to teach our pupils about it. I am happy that our students can follow the solar panel energy production on a day-to-day basis.”

It’s not just the drivers having all the racing fun though, Extreme E has worked with The Danish Automobile Sports Federation (DASU), the municipality of Qeqqata and Kalaanni Teknikkimik Ilinniarfik (KTI, the vocational School of Greenland) to present an interdisciplinary project to provide electric go-karts, which were presented to the students this week by legendary drivers Sébastien Loeb, Cristina Gutiérrez, Emma Gilmour, Stéphane Sarrazin and Oliver Bennett.

The purpose of the project is to create a fun and exciting interdisciplinary teaching-programme while sparking Greenlandic youth interest in electric vehicles with the wider purpose of getting more students into vocational education and being able to handle the many EVs in Greenland.

The interdisciplinary teaching-programme uses the fun and motivation from motorsport to focus on Sustainable Development Goals, mathematics, science and sports to achieve these ambitions. The programme has had success for three years in Denmark and an adjusted version will tour Greenland for the years to come.  

Torben Nielsen, Chairman of Tech College Greenland said: “We see more and more EVs in Greenland, now also in Kangerlussuaq. Tech College Greenland hopes that with the help of Extreme E and DASU, it can attract young people to become EV mechanics.”

The Arctic X Prix racing action gets underway today with Free Practice, followed by Qualifying on Saturday and Semi-Finals and Final on Sunday. A host of global broadcasters alongside Extreme E’s own channels will be airing all the racing. To find out more click here.

Source:

Extreme E