Dead ice is doomed to melt, no matter what happens with future carbon pollution
Greenland’s rapidly melting ice sheet will eventually raise global sea levels by at least 27 centimetres — more than twice as much as previously forecast — according to a study published Monday.
That’s because of something that could be called zombie ice. That’s doomed ice that, while still attached to thicker areas of ice, is no longer getting replenished by parent glaciers now receiving less snow. Without replenishment, the doomed ice is melting from climate change and will inevitably raise seas, said study co-author William Colgan, a glaciologist at the Geological Survey of Denmark and Greenland.
“It’s dead ice. It’s just going to melt and disappear from the ice sheet,” Colgan said in an interview. “This ice has been consigned to the ocean, regardless of what climate [emissions] scenario we take now.”
Study lead author Jason Box, a glaciologist at the Greenland survey, said it is “more like one foot in the grave.”
The unavoidable 27-centimetre increase predicted in the study is more than twice as much sea level rise as scientists had previously expected from the melting of Greenland’s ice sheet. The study, published in the journal Nature Climate Change, said it could reach as much as 78 centimetres. By contrast, last year’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change report projected a range of six to 13 centimetres for likely sea level rise from Greenland ice melt by the year 2100.
Related stories from around the North:
Canada: Microbe discovery in Arctic Canada could help better understand life on Mars, Eye on the Arctic
Finland: Arctic warming twice as fast as previously thought, says Finnish study, Yle News
Norway: German icebreaker back from research trip to better understand Arctic ice, Eye on the Arctic
Russia: Record-breaking heat followed by extreme cold on Russian Arctic coast, The Independent Barents Observer
United States: Could melting Arctic sea ice be responsible for U.S. wildfires?, Eye on the Arctic