New York, Greenland could lose 4.5 per cent of its ice, contributing up to 13 inches of sea level rise, by the end of this century if worldwide greenhouse gas emissions remain on their current trajectory, warns a new study.
The island might be ice-free by the year 3000, said the study published in the journal Science Advances.
“How Greenland will look in the future — in a couple of hundred years or in 1,000 years — whether there will be Greenland or at least a Greenland similar to today, it’s up to us,” said lead author Andy Aschwanden, Research Associate Professor at University of Alaska Fairbanks Geophysical Institute in the US.
This research used new data on the landscape under the ice today to make breakthroughs in modelling the future.
The findings show a wide range of scenarios for ice loss and sea level rise based on different projections for greenhouse gas concentrations and atmospheric conditions.
Currently, the planet is moving toward the high estimates of greenhouse gas concentrations.
Greenland’s ice sheet is huge, spanning over 660,000 square miles. Today, the ice sheet covers 81 per cent of Greenland and contains eight of Earth’s fresh water bodies.
If greenhouse gas concentrations remain on the current path, the melting ice from Greenland alone could contribute as much as 24 feet to global sea level rise by the year 3000, which would put much of San Francisco, Los Angeles, New Orleans and other cities under water, said the study.
The team used data from a NASA airborne science campaign called ‘Operation IceBridge’.
Operation IceBridge uses aircraft equipped with a full suite of scientific instruments, including three types of radar that can measure the ice surface, the individual layers within the ice and penetrate to the bedrock to collect data about the land beneath the ice.
On average, Greenland’s ice sheet is 1.6 miles thick, but there is a lot of variation depending on where you measure.
Between 1991 and 2015, Greenland’s ice sheet has added about 0.02 inches per year to sea level, but that could rapidly increase.