Greenland Ice Sheet Warming Faster Than Previously Thought

The Greenland Ice sheet is warming faster than previously thought, according to a new study of ice cores. A temperature reconstruction from ice cores of the past 1,000 years reveals that today's warming in central-north Greenland is surprisingly pronounced. The most recent decade surveyed in a study, the years 2001 to 2011, was the warmest in the past 1,000 years, and the region is now 1.5 °C warmer than during the 20th century, as researchers led by the Alfred Wegener Institute just report in the journal Nature. Using a set of ice cores unprecedented in length and quality, they reconstructed past temperatures in central-north Greenland and melting rates of the ice sheet. The Greenland Ice Sheet plays a pivotal part in the global climate system. With enormous amounts of water stored in the ice (about 3 million cubic kilometres), melt and resulting sea-level rise is considered a potential tipping point. For unmitigated global emissions rates ('business as usual'), the ice sheet is projected to contribute up to 50 centimetres to global mean sea-level by 2100. Weather stations along the coast have been recording rising temperatures for many years. But the influence of global warming on the up to 3,000 m elevated parts of the ice sheet have remained unclear to due to the lack of long-term observations. However, using sophisticated analysis, the scientists discovered melting has increased substantially in Greenland since the 2000s and now significantly contributes to global sea-level rise.