Energy & Environment

Greenland ice sheet loses more than it gained for 25th straight year

Associated Press/John McConnico

The Greenland ice sheet has lost more ice than it gained for the 25th straight year, according to a summary by scientists in Carbon Brief.

The ice sheet had a total loss of 166 gigatons of ice from September 2020 through August 2021.

The loss occurred from events such as rain hitting Greenland’s Summit Station and melting where the glaciers meet warmed ocean waters.

Other factors include “calving,” where icebergs break off, and “basal melting,” which occurs when the underneath of the ice sheet slides over the ground. 

The ice sheet did experience a close to average snowfall this past year, which helped delay the melting season, according to the summary. 

However, the ice sheet also experienced rainfall that even hit the Summit Station, which scientists believe hasn’t seen rain since at least the 1880s. 

The ice sheet also experienced the highest lost from calving and ocean melt since satellites began documenting the phenomenon in 1986.

Scientists warn the loss from calving and melting from the ocean will not be able to be compensated by cool summers and an increase in snowfall forever. 

“2020/21 was a comparably ‘normal’ year. The new normal, that is,” Martin Stendel, a polar researcher at the Danish Meteorological Institute and one of the authors of the article, told The Washington Post. “But that does not mean it was good in this sense.”

Tags Greenland ice sheet

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