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Study of Greenland’s Ice Loss

By Amigos IAS

Why is it in the news?

  • Recent research, based on satellite imagery, reveals that Greenland’s ice sheet has lost 20% more ice than previously estimated, highlighting the impact of climate change.
  • Researchers in the United States analysed almost 240,000 satellite images showing glacier terminus positions from 1985 to 2022.

Key Findings

  • Nearly every glacier in Greenland has experienced thinning or retreat over the past few decades, indicating a pervasive impact on the ice sheet.
  • Approximately 1,000 gigatons (1 gigaton = 1 billion tons), equivalent to 20% of ice around Greenland’s edges, have been lost over the past four decades and were not previously taken into account in estimates.
  • While the direct impact on sea level rise is currently minimal, the unaccounted ice loss could signal future overall ice melt, making glaciers more prone to slipping towards the sea.
  • Greenland glaciers are highly susceptible to seasonal changes, expanding in winter and retreating in summer.
  • Greenland glaciers are the most sensitive to the impact of global warming and have experienced significant retreat since 1985.
  • The melting of Greenland’s enormous ice sheet is estimated to have contributed over 20% to the observed rise in sea levels since 2002.


About Greenland Glacier

·       The Greenland Ice Sheet covers approximately 80% of the world’s largest island, spanning 1.7 million square kilometres (656,000 square miles).

·       It is the largest ice mass in the Northern Hemisphere and ranks second globally to Antarctica.

·       At its thickest point, the ice sheet measures over 1.9 miles thick, containing about 696,000 cubic miles of ice.

·       The ice sheet is formed from layers of snow compressed over thousands of years.

·       If the entire Greenland Ice Sheet were to melt, it could contribute to a sea level rise of about 24 feet.

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