Record melting of the Greenland ice sheet in 2019

(Paris) The Greenland ice sheet lost 532 billion tons of ice in 2019, a new record for this gigantic arctic region affected by global warming, accelerating the rise in ocean levels and putting millions of people at risk. , according to a new study.

Posted on August 21, 2020 at 7:02 am

Marlowe KAP
France Media Agency

This melt, equivalent to three million tons of water per day or the content of six Olympic swimming pools per second, was the largest source of sea level rise in 2019 – 1.4 millimeters, 40% of the total – according to the researchers’ findings, published Thursday. in the journal Communications Earth & Environment.

This loss was at least 15% higher than the last record in 2012 and confirms a long-term trend, they warn.

In addition to 2019, “the other four record years have all been recorded in the past decade,” explains AFP lead author of the study, Ingo Sasgen, glaciologist at the Helmholtze Center for Polar and Marine Research (Germany).

Last week, another study published in the same journal warned of the irreparable melting of the Greenland ice sheet, which would continue “even if global warming stopped today,” as snowfall no longer compensates for losses.

Alarming reports of the melting of the ice on this 2 million km2 island (almost four times the size of France) bordered by three-quarters by the waters of the Arctic Ocean and 85% covered with ice have since increased. several years.

The region is warming twice as fast as the rest of the planet. In the 1980s and 1990s, the ice sheet lost about 450 gigatons (450 billion tons) of ice per year, replaced by snowfall. But from the 2000s, the melting accelerated and climbed to 500 gigatons without being offset by snowfall, the authors of the study published Aug. 13 had calculated.

The decrease in snowfall, also a result of climate change, is actually causing less cloud cover, and thus warmer days, exposed to the sun, which in turn accelerates the melting of the ice …

In 2019, the Greenland hood lost 1,130 gigatons (55% from melting ice and 45% from direct fragmentation of glaciers in the ocean) and gained 600 gigatons from precipitation, according to Ingo Sasgen, who in turn considers premature. to decide on a point of no return.

“That does not mean that it is not important to contain global warming. Every tenth degree prevents a small sea level rise, ”the researcher emphasized.

The melting of the Greenland ice sheet caused sea levels to rise by 1.1 centimeters between 1992 and 2018, the authors of a study published last December by the journal Nature calculated.

According to climate experts from the UN (IPCC), the sea level has already risen by 15 cm in the 20th century. The consequence: By 2050, more than a billion people will live in coastal areas that are particularly vulnerable to flooding or extreme weather events exacerbated by sea level rise and climate change.

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