Monday, March 12, 2012

Greenland ice sheet more sensitive to warming

The Age (Australia) via Bloomberg: Greenland's ice sheet is more sensitive to global warming than previously thought and may already be approaching a critical threshold, researchers in Spain and Germany found.

The ice sheet may lose its ability to grow once warming reaches 1.6 degrees Celsius since pre-industrial times, according to a study today in Nature Climate Change. That's below the previous best estimate of 3.1 degrees, the scientists at Madrid's Complutense University and Germany's Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research found.

"We might already be approaching the critical threshold," Alexander Robinson, the paper's lead author and an academic affiliated with both institutions, said in an emailed statement. "The more we exceed the threshold, the faster it melts."

The United Nations estimates the Greenland ice sheet contains enough water to raise global sea levels by about seven metres, threatening coastal cities from New York to London and Bangkok. Even so, the researchers said it could take thousands of years for the entire sheet to melt....

An aerial view of the Greenland ice sheet by Hannes Grobe (who has taken many breathtaking shots of the polar regions) Wikimedia Commons, under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.5 Generic license

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