Researchers: The collapse of Greenland’s ice sheet could be a bigger disaster than we thought

www.theatlantic.com Lindsay Abrams

(Credit: Denis Burdin/Shutterstock)
(Credit: Denis Burdin/Shutterstock)

New, from the people who brought us the unstoppable collapse of the West Antarctic ice sheet: It turns out that Greenland’s glaciers are more vulnerable to melting than was previously thought. That means current predictions of sea level rise, which are already quite alarming, may be too conservative.

Due to the particular quirks of Greenland’s topography, say a group of researchers at the University of California, Irvine, writing in the journal Nature Geoscience, its glaciers “are likely to retreat faster and farther inland than anticipated – and for much longer.” Climate Central explains:

Unlike the Antarctic glaciers, which end in tongues of ice that float on the Southern Ocean seas, the glaciers of Greenland terminate with the land, butting up against the surrounding water. So instead of warm water melting the glaciers from below, as in Antarctica, the ocean waters melt the vertical fronts of Greenland’s glaciers. Scientists had thought that the melt of the Greenland glaciers would continue for a few decades, until the ice melted back to a point where the ground was higher than sea level and then would haltClick to continue

 

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