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Climate Change: Greenland is Still Melting, NASA Video Reminds Us

Aug 29, 2015 11:15 PM EDT
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As part of their ongoing "ScienceCasts" video series, Science@NASA reminds just how closely experts from around the world have been keeping a wary eye on Greenland's ice sheet. The result has been a mountain of research all showing the same thing: under the thinning of ice is a whole lot of nothing, and that's not good news.

As the video warns, experts with NASA and various other professional institutions have already determined that the water trapped as Greenland's ice could effectively raise the height of the world's seas by a whopping 23 feet (7m) - that is, if it ALL melted into the ocean. What's worrying is that it seems that we're already well on our way to getting to that point. (Scroll to read on...)


[Credit: NASA ]

You can find the published study mentioned in the video above in an early edition of the journal Geophysical Research Letters.

Some may argue that NASA scientists and their partners may be jumping the gun when assessing Greenland. After all, the current rate of sea level rise is still very slow, at about two millimeters every year. What's more, while the ice-shelves of Earth's other major water-lock, Antarctica, continue to melt faster than ever before, they are still melting slower than many experts previously warned.

However, new research has also revealed that Greenland's ice sheet is more sensitive to climate shifts than previously thought - a factor that may contribute to the fact that the melt rate of Antarctica appears to lag some 200 years behind that of Greenland. (Scroll to read on...)

(Photo : NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center Scientific Visualization Studio)

That's also a hints that the ocean is heavily involved in the escalated melting of Greenlands sheet. It has already been confirmed by the NOAA and international meteorological agencies that 2014 was the hottest year to date, with climbing ocean surface temperatures in the north largely to blame. These temperature hikes have reportedly been getting worse each year, contributing to a 'series of warmer decades.'

"The 200-year lag that we observe certainly hints at an oceanic mechanism," researcher Christo Buizert added in a statement. "If the climatic changes were propagated by the atmosphere [alone], the Antarctic response would have occurred in a matter of years or decades, not centuries. The ocean is large and sluggish, thus the 200-year time lag is a pretty clear fingerprint of the ocean's involvement."

However, how exactly the ocean affects melting, and how that melting in-turn affect the oceans remains to be something of a mystery - one that experts, like those featured by NASA's ScienceCasts, are scrambling to solve.

For more great nature science stories and general news, please visit our sister site, Headlines and Global News (HNGN).

 - follow Brian on Twitter @BS_ButNoBS

 

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