GLOBAL WARMING ALERT: Greenland ice sheet melting at ‘UNPRECEDENTED’ rate - ‘TRUMP EFFECT’

GLOBAL WARMING ALERT: Greenland ice sheet melting at ‘UNPRECEDENTED’ rate - ‘TRUMP EFFECT’

The research is the first continuous, multi-century analysis of melting and runoff on the ice sheet, one of the largest drivers of sea level rise globally.

The long-term record the researchers built from these layered ice cores allowed them to spot a slight trend of increased melting across Greenland coinciding with the beginning of modern-day warming in the mid-1800s.

"Melting of the Greenland Ice Sheet has gone into overdrive".

And without a huge change of direction, Greenland "will melt more and more for every degree of warming", Mr Trusel warned.

A United Nations report in October said that marine ice sheet instability in Antarctica and/or the irreversible loss of the Greenland ice sheet could result in a multi-metre rise in the sea level over hundreds to thousands of years.

Fellow glaciologist and co-author of the report Sarah Das said: "From a historical perspective, today's melt rates are off the charts, and this study provides the evidence to prove this".

Greenland's ice sheet is melting at a scale "off the charts" compared with the previous four centuries.

Melting ice in Greenland, home to the second largest mass of ice after Antarctica, is thought to add 0.8 millimetres of water to global ocean levels annually, more than any other region, according to NASA. Across the ice sheet, melting was more rapid in 2012 than any other year and the most recent decade included in the ice core-analysis, 2004-2013, experienced "a more sustained and greater magnitude of melt than any other 10-year period" in the 350-year record, the scientists wrote.

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At lower elevations, meltwater simply runs off the ice sheet, but at higher elevations some percolates down through porous, compacted snow called firn before refreezing to form layers not unlike the growth layers found in trees. Erich Osterberg of Dartmouth College, who co-authored the earlier study, said the new paper expands that record to the whole ice sheet.

The researchers also warned that Greenland, which locks up the equivalent of around 30ft (7m) of sea level rise, is becoming more sensitive to warming than it was in the past.

"It's not just increasing, it's accelerating", he explained.

Dr Trusel said: "To be able to answer what might happen to Greenland next, we need to understand how Greenland has already responded to climate change".

"Even a very small change in temperature caused an exponential increase in melting in recent years", she said.

The rapid rise in surface melting over the last two decades in particular suggests a "non-linear" response to rising temperatures, meaning as global warming progresses this melting could greatly accelerate, contributing more and more to rising sea levels.

This research was funded by the US National Science Foundation, institutional support from Rowan University and Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, the US Department of Defense, the Netherlands Organization for Scientific Research, the Netherlands Earth System Science Center, and the Belgian National Fund for Scientific Research.

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