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Meltwater running off the surface of the Greenland Ice Sheet.

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Greenland ice sheet faces accelerated thinning and retreat

07.01.2011, Age: 3945 days

Aberystwyth glaciologists warn that the Greenland ice sheet is "retreating and thinning extensively" after a year of record-breaking high temperatures.

Although surface melting has doubled since 2009, Alun Hubbard of Aberystwyth University does not believe that the ice sheet will collapse within 50 years. It will take at least 100 to 1,000 years before it "potentially passes any point of no return leading to any widespread collapse".

The team of 15 from Aberystwyth and Swansea universities, UK, concludes that rising temperatures had caused extensive melting the upper parts of the ice sheet in this "very sensitive polar region of the planet".

Recently, a team led by Michiel van den Broeke, Utrecht University, The Netherlands, concluded that mass loss from the ice sheet is accelerating. "Since 2006, high summer melt rates have increased Greenland ice sheet mass loss to 273 gigatons per year (0.75 millimeters per year of equivalent sea level rise)." (Science)

If the eintire Greenland ice sheet would disappear, global sea level would rise 7 m.

Michiel van den Broeke, et al. Partitioning Recent Greenland Mass Loss. Science 326, 984 (2009); DOI: 10.1126/science.1178176

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