A trillion tonnes of ice lost in just 4 years

21st August 2016



A trillion tonnes of ice has vanished, evaporated, melted into the sea over the last four years. That’s awful, you might think. However, this statement of fact reads all the worst when we tell you the ‘ice melt’ figures applies just to Greenland. The rate of melt has tripled in that short space of time and Greenland is in big trouble.

In living memory, many inhabitants in this cold northerly country will remember when the snow and ice covered the land all the way to the coast. One trillion tonnes of ice melting is the just the latest ecological bad news for Greenland.

If we stretch all the way back to the last century, Greenland can say it has lost nine million tonnes of ice. The fact that one trillion of those nine has all melted within just four years, sends shockwaves as to what the near future holds, let alone the long-term affect.

The loss of ice from Greenland over the last 100 years will have contributed to a global sea level rise of one inch. Measuring the ice loss has not been an easy thing to do. Researchers and scientists have had to make do with satellite imagery dedicated to observing ice sheets on Greenland from above.

Overall, the majority of Greenland’s ice loss was in the south and west of the country, but there were also significant losses of ice colder, north region of this huge Arctic nation.

Researchers also observed that a fully 12 per cent of the ice loss came from just five glaciers. All of these five glaciers flow out into the sea, so when you match the rising temperatures around the world and the warming of our oceans, it should combine to make an ongoing retreat inevitable.

Greenland has just gone through its warmest winter on record, and the fear is the ice melt is about to accelerate. One theory for the acceleration of the ice in Greenland could have its origins as far away as the tropics. Latent heat and tropical weather have an impact on the ice sheets across Greenland in a natural phenomenon known as “Arctic amplification”.

The loss of sea ice is altering the path of the jet stream. The path of the jet stream changing impacts on Greenland, and this, impacts on the glaciers and ice sheets in the Arctic.