Greenland has more than two trillion tons of water locked into a huge blanket of ice that smokes 80% of its land. If it was to disappear, it would cause sea levels around the world to increase by an average of seven meters, leaving many low-lying colonies and islands submerged.
And as rising temperatures in the Arctic have led to the sea ice that covers much of the area's ocean to withdraw even further, scientists have been nervously studying Greenland's melting ice sheet to see how it is affected.
They fear that without the insulating effect of the sea ice – along with its ability to reflect the summer sunshine – Greenland could suffer accelerated levels of melting in the coming decades. Indeed, with global temperatures currently warm at more than 11,000 years, there are concerns that the world has already been committed to melting greenland over the coming decades.
Now, research uses sophisticated computer models to simulate the relationship between the Arctic and the ice sheet in Greenland suggesting that this could not be the case.
The researchers working on the EAS 2 IIS project have shown that changes in sea ice and Greenland's ice sheets appear largely largely from each other. Sea ice is prone to temperature changes in the layers of water in the ocean below it while most of Greenland responds to atmospheric temperature rises.
A millennium-scale simulation of the Greenland ice sheet and climate change shows that its melting is largely independent of the sea ice. Video Credits – DMI, CSC (J. Hokkanen, Visualization)
The finding indicates that while the arctic sea ice is disarming, Greenland's ice sheet may remain for centuries to come. It suggests that efforts to cut greenhouse gas emissions and restrict global temperature increases to 2 ° C above pre-industrial levels, as set out in the Paris Climate Change Agreement, could allow the world to prevent the melting class that would lead to catastrophic Sea level rises.
"We do not have to worry about any secondary effect of the loss of sea ice on … (surface) melting in Greenland, which is accurately due to the greenhouse effect," explains Professor J. Christoffer Christensen Christensen, a researcher at Climate Physics at The Niels Boor Institute in Copenhagen, Denmark and one of the lead coordinators of the EAS 2 AIS project.
Still, the loss of sea ice in the arctic is still alarming because it has a major impact on the ecosystems in the area.
The Ace 2-point project reconstructed as Arctic Sea ice and Greenland's ice sheets have responded to climate change in the past by analyzing ice cores of greenland and sediment cores from the bottom of the Arctic Ocean. They used this information to build a simulation of what could happen if the world continues to warm.
We ran an experiment where we have 15 ° C of global warming, which is very high, to cause all the sea ice to disappear, "said Professor Hesselbjerg Christensen." Even so, the response to Greenland was only driven by the overall enhanced greenhouse effect, it stays fast for hundreds of years, and we can not see much of the sea. "He said that the ice sheet began to change its shape Several hundred years.
While simulating such extreme warming may seem unrealistic, some parts of the Arctic have been experiencing sudden changes in temperature at a local level that may mimic it in the next decades.
If you look around Spalbard (on the edge of the Arctic Ocean), we've seen a great temperature change over the last 40 years – something in the order of 2 ° C per decade, & # 39; Said Prof. Hesselbjerg Christensen. If this goes for 100 years, then the warming (locally) would be very strong.
While global temperatures are estimated to increase by around 1 ° C compared to those in pre-industrial times, this is an average increase in the world. Some areas will experience greater warming – like the Arctic – while others will not.
One of the problems we have is that the arctic is still not really well understood.
Professor Garry Peterson, Stockholm Resilience Center, Sweden
It has many to consider the Arctic to be a brand of canary in the coal that could be located in the store as the world continues to warm up. The Stockholm Resilience Center in Sweden recently acted 19 government shifts to markers of climate change as it transmits the Arctic.
It found that it has been shown that 15 of the regime shifts in the Arctic as the warm climate is irreversible in the vegetation on the earth and ecosystems in the ocean.
"The Arctic is the forefront of the climate change around the world, as it has, in general, worn twice as fast as the global average," said Professor Garry Peterson, an environmental scientist at the Stockholm Resilience Center. There is growing concern about how the loss of sea ice is changing global weather patterns.
In the recent times of nature, found that the loss of Arctic Sea ice could impact the presentation patterns around the world, driving an increase in droughts and fires in places like California, which this year has seen devastating blizzards rising through its cities and countryside.
One of the problems we have is that the arctic is still not really well understood, Said Professor Petchan. There is relatively little monitoring going on in the Arctic compared to other parts of the world. So we are likely to see some more surprises than the Arctic continues to change. & # 39;
Most of our knowledge about the changes in the Actik come now from satellite imaging that show reductions in summer sea ice over the last 40 years. Unfortunately, to really understand whether this is due to human influence on the climate or natural variations in the environment needs data that goes back further in the past.
The Isidinamo project was designed to build a high-resolution reconstruction of the sea ice cover in the Arctic Ocean off the shores of the northeast Greenland ice sheet. Using information stored in the sediment at the bottom of the ocean, researchers on this project are poised together as the sea ice varies over the last few millennia and as the ocean and atmospheric conditions may have influenced that.
If we can see what happened in the past 2000 years, we can see what the natural variations have been in the sea ice before humans started to influence it, said Dr Teodora Pados, a geosy scientist in Aarhus University in Denmark, who is the lead researcher in the project. We need to understand what the natural variation of sea ice has been in recent years and what caused.
Although the project only started earlier this year, the results should help to introduce scientists to build models for how the Arctic is likely to change in the coming years. The fate of the region may have intense implications not only for the living there but elsewhere in the world too.
The (variability in) sea ice influences large-scale climate phenomena that have impact on the world, & rsquo; Said Dr. Pados. A recent study has shown that it can affect the weather in Europe, and it is also known to maintain the deep water conveyor belt that produces water around the world. (The system) is very complicated and we still do not know what the full effects will be if we lose the sea ice. "
The research in this article was funded by the EU. If you liked this article, please consider sharing it with social media.