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Analysis: Greenland ice sheet lost a record amount of ice in 2019

Analysis: Greenland ice sheet lost a record amount of ice in 2019
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A group of scientists in Germany has determined that the Greenland ice sheet lost a record amount of ice last year, jeopardizing populations of wildlife that depend upon the ice as part of their natural habitat.

Ingo Sasgen, a researcher at the Alfred Wegener Institute of the Helmholtz Centre for Polar and Marine Research, told The Guardian that satellite data studied as part of his team's analysis revealed that the amount of ice lost in 2019 totaled 532 billion tons: more than double the annual average since 2003.

"The real message is that the ice sheet is strongly out of balance,” Sasgen said.

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Last year was "really shocking and depressing in terms of the numbers,” he added. “But it’s also not very surprising, because we had other strong melt years in 2010 and 2012, and I expect we will see more and more.”

Melting sea ice as a result of climate change is the primary cause of rising sea levels around the world, a phenomenon that threatens both coastal communities as well as wildlife including polar bears and seals that depend upon the ice as their primary habitats.

Scientists have warned that countries around the world must reduce emissions of greenhouse gases to limit the effects of climate change in order to prevent the most drastic effects of melting sea ice. Should the Greenland ice shelf melt entirely, scientists believe that sea levels could rise by as much as 20 feet.