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Greenland Lost 600 Billion Tons Of Ice In Two Months

by : Cameron Frew on : 23 Mar 2020 12:01
Greenland Lost 600 Billion Tons Of Ice In Two MonthsPA Images

The coronavirus pandemic is at the forefront of everyone’s minds right now. However, Greenland’s latest loss of ice is a chilling reminder of climate change’s ubiquity across the world. 

The global warming conversation has been fairly diluted in the news cycle due to the surging COVID-19 outbreak. While an unexpected by-product of the virus has seen reduced emissions and cleaner water in some areas, it hasn’t completely alleviated the strain on the planet.

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The ice caps are melting, as the Earth’s temperature endures recurring increases. A new NASA study shows Greenland lost 600 billion tons of ice in just two months ‘during the exceptionally warm Arctic summer of 2019’ – enough to rise sea levels by nearly a tenth of an inch.

Greenland IcePA Images

Scientists from NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) and the University of California, Irvine, looked at the loss of mass in Greenland as well as Antarctica.

Losses continue to surge on in Antarctica, honing in on Amundsen Sea Embayment and the Antarctic Peninsula in the west (that said, snowfall has increased in the northeast helping to maintain mass). However, Greenland’s losses last year more than double its 2002-2019 yearly average.

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Greenland - IcebergsCameron Frew

Isabella Velicogna, senior project scientist at JPL and professor at the university, explained: 

We knew this past summer had been particularly warm in Greenland, melting every corner of the ice sheet. But the numbers really are enormous.

In Antarctica, the mass loss in the west proceeds unabated, which will lead to an even further increase in sea level rise. But we also observe a mass gain in the Atlantic sector of East Antarctica caused by an uptick in snowfall, which helps mitigate the enormous increase in mass loss that we have seen in the last two decades on other parts of the continent.

The research was intended to testify the findings of the GRACE and GRACE-FO satellites – launched as a collaboration between NASA, the German Aerospace Centre and German Research Centre for Geosciences to assess the effects of gravitational-pull changes on Earth’s land mass.

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Greenland - IcebergsPA Images

The first GRACE mission launched back in 2002, before being decommissioned in October 2017. GRACE-FO, intended to continue the work of its predecessor, launched in May 2018 – due to this year-long gap, Velicogna and her colleagues conducted a study to ensure the mission’s findings were consistent.

Velicogna added:

It is great to see how well the data line up in Greenland and Antarctica, even at the regional level. It is a tribute to the great effort by the project, engineering and science teams to make the mission successful.

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The world is slowing down as a result of coronavirus – while increased self-isolation is enabling lower carbon footprints, don’t be complacent in your other green efforts, even from the comfort of your home.

If you have a story you want to tell, send it to UNILAD via [email protected]

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Cameron Frew

After graduating from Glasgow Caledonian University with an NCTJ and BJTC-accredited Multimedia Journalism degree, Cameron ventured into the world of print journalism at The National, while also working as a freelance film journalist on the side, becoming an accredited Rotten Tomatoes critic in the process. He's now left his Scottish homelands and taken up residence at UNILAD as a journalist.

Topics: News, Antarctica, Climate Change, Global Warming, greenland, NASA

Credits

NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory
  1. NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory

    GRACE, GRACE-FO Satellite Data Track Ice Loss at the Poles