Apr 01, 2017 05:25 PM EDT
Greenland is rapidly losing its icy coastline due to increasing temperatures in the region. Scientists fear that it may never recover and never grow back.
A study from the Ohio State University revealed that melting Greenland's coastal ice has passed its tipping point 20 years ago. Accordingly, the ice sheet growth was stunted when a layer of snow, called the firn was frozen over causing new growth on the coastlines to cease.
Large sections of ice have been melting away, combined with sea temperature rise. The researchers predict that at the rate it is going; there will be a 1.5-inch increase in global sea rise by 2100.
The study published in the journal Nature Communications indicated the vulnerability of Greenland's ice. Accordingly, deep snow layers that usually capture meltwater have already been filled up and have been frozen solid since 1997. Therefore, all new meltwater just flows over it and go straight out to the sea.
Normally, meltwater drains into gaps in the firn to the ice surface. Now, however, it froze through from top to bottom. With no gaps to capture meltwater, no new ice could grow. Though it looks grim, theirs is still no cause for major panic in the short-term.
The study indicated that only small portion of the coastal glaciers and ice caps in Greenland were affected, not the huge, inland Greenland Ice Sheet, the second largest ice cache in the world. The important discovery gave the scientists an insight on why Greenland's most vulnerable parts are melting so quickly, since 1997.
The important thing is that Greenland's Ice Sheet, though also vulnerable, is only affected to a lesser degree, due mainly to its size. Scientist says that its firn still has plenty of capacity to capture meltwater, for now. Though Greenland's entire coastline is not at risk, associate professor at Ohio State and co-author of the study Ian Howat said that, if all Greenland's ice sheet melted, the world would be inundated with a 24 feet rise in sea level.
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