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Greenland Ice Sheet Melting Helped Along By Clouds


As researchers continue to learn more about the world's melting ice sheets, they find new contributing factors and some are not expected.

Published in the journal Nature Communications, the new study detailed how clouds could be causing the Greenland ice sheet to melt more rapidly. The most well known contributors to melting ice sheets are higher temperatures and warmer waters.

"Over the next 80 years, we could be dealing with another foot of sea level rise around the world," study co-author Tristan L'Ecuyer, a professor of atmospheric and oceanic sciences at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, said in a press release. "Parts of Miami and New York City are less than two feet above sea level; another foot of sea level rise and suddenly you have water in the city."

The new discovery makes it seem as though ice sheets in Greenland and elsewhere are surrounded by things that will only help melt it. The result is that the sea level will continue to rise, threatening coastal cities and marine habitats.

"Within the last 10 years, NASA launched two satellites that have just completely changed our view of what clouds look like around the planet," L'Ecuyer said. "Once you know what the clouds look like, you know how much sunlight they're going to reflect and how much heat from Earth's surface they're going to keep in."

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