Greenland ice most vulnerable to global warmingMarch 12th, 2012 - 3:53 pm ICT by IANS
Berlin, March 12 (IANS) The Greenland ice sheet seems to be the most vulnerable to global warming at this stage than previously estimated.
The temperature threshold for melting the ice sheet completely is in the range of 0.8 to 3.2 degrees Celsius of global warming, with a best estimate of 1.6 degrees above pre-industrial levels.
These are the latest findings by the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research (PIK), Germany and the Universidad Complutense de Madrid, the journal Nature Climate Change reports.
Today, already 0.8 degrees global warming has been observed. Substantial melting of land ice could contribute to long-term sea-level rise of several metres and therefore it potentially affects the lives of many millions of people, according to a Potsdam statement.
The time it takes before most of the ice in Greenland is lost strongly depends on the level of warming. “The more we exceed the threshold, the faster it melts,” says Alexander Robinson, who led the study.
In a business-as-usual scenario of greenhouse-gas emissions, in the long run humanity might be reaching 8 degrees Celsius of global warming.
This would result in one-fifth of the ice sheet melting within 500 years and a complete loss in 2000 years, according to the study.
“This is not what one would call a rapid collapse,” says Robinson. “However, compared to what has happened in our planet’s history, it is fast. And we might already be approaching the critical threshold.”
Conversely, if global warming would be limited to two degrees Celsius, complete melting would happen on a time-scale of 50,000 years. Still, even within this temperature range often considered a global guard-rail, the Greenland ice sheet is not secure.
“Our study shows that under certain conditions the melting of the Greenland ice sheet becomes irreversible. This supports the notion that the ice sheet is a tipping element in the Earth system,” says team-leader Andrey Ganopolski of PIK.
- Global warming curbs won't prevent steep sea rise - Mar 21, 2012
- Climate changes will be rapid if warming continues - Dec 09, 2011
- Warming ocean layers melt polar ice sheets faster - Jul 04, 2011
- Believe it or not - glaciers are growing! - Jan 28, 2011
- Sea levels may rise much higher, says fossil study - Jul 16, 2012
- Warming casts shadow over survival of coral reefs - Sep 17, 2012
- Hot season triggers 100 bn tonnes Greenland ice loss - Dec 11, 2011
- Scientists pinpoint cause of past sea level rises - Jul 12, 2012
- Global warming will push up sea level - Jun 25, 2012
- Melting glaciers on Arctic islands play major role in rise of sea level - Apr 21, 2011
- Climate change far worse than thought before - Jan 03, 2010
- Alarm bells over Greenland ice melt - Oct 26, 2011
- Melting glaciers to contribute 12cm to world sea-level increases by 2100 - Jan 11, 2011
- Polar ice melt 'accelerating rapidly, raising sea level' - Mar 09, 2011
- Ancient fossils hold clues for predicting future climate change - Apr 09, 2011
Tags: alexander robinson, best estimate, climate change, climate impact research, critical threshold, earth system, global warming, greenhouse gas emissions, greenland ice sheet, journal nature, land ice, melting the ice, one fifth, pik, potsdam institute, rapid collapse, sea level rise, temperature threshold, time scale, universidad complutense de madrid