Greenland got its name from Viking settlers in the 9th century during a warm period in earth’s history. Present day Greenland is white, covered with a thick ice sheet and many massive glaciers.
But Greenland’s ice is changing as a result of human-driven increases in global temperatures. Greenland’s glaciers have been shrinking for many years. A recent study, published in December in the scientific journal Nature, shows that Greenland’s ice loss is now accelerating much more rapidly. This study covers the years 1900 through 2010 by combining several information sources: recent marks left on the land by retreating glaciers; aerial photography; and since 1983, satellite and aircraft measurements. The data show that in 2003-2015, ice loss more than doubled in comparison to the rest of the period studied. The rate of melting is contributing an estimated 186 billion metric tons of ice loss annually, a frightening amount of meltwater to add to the already rising level of the earth’s seas.
Ice loss will continue as global temperature increases. The goal set by the recent Paris accords would hold the increase to below 2.5 degrees Fahrenheit. IF temperature rise slows then Greenland may stay white. Unfortunately, the latest news is that 2015 is the warmest year on record, and January 2016 the warmest January on record.
Will the world’s nations do their part? Will the U.S. be able to counter roadblocks from the fossil fuel industry and allied politicians? It is time for us to educate Americans on what we must do to avoid catastrophic flooding of our planet.
Jean Stewart, Chair
Environment and Energy Task Force