An unusual phenomenon is happening in Greenland involving its ice sheets. The ice is melting faster and faster because the total loss of ice this year increased to 2 million tons. 40% of Greenland’s ice is affected. Behind all these losses of ice is one reason- Climate change. The status of Greenland’s ice presents a concerning issue of climate change because the ice is continuing to melt, affecting humans and other organisms and the rising sea levels.
Greenland’s Ice Continues To Melt
In recent weeks from late July to early August, 90% of Greenland’s ice sheet surfaces were all melted in a week. The middle and the eastern regions of ice were having the most damage. Melt runoffs from July 30th to August 3rd is significant. 55 billion tons of ice were melted, the most ice sheets ever melted in a single week. Compared to the average in 1981-2010 melt runoffs, that’s 40 billion tons more than an average week, a troubling matter for Greenland. This enormous liquefying of ice created extensive bare ice and flooded snow areas. The surface temperature of the ice surface has also increased to 12 degrees Celsius above that of the period in 1981-2010. The reason behind all this is the continuous heat waves from Europe headed towards Greenland, which will consequentially impact more ice sheets. Thus, the reason for the ice sheets’ melting is because of high temperatures.
Science Behind Ice Sheets’ Loss
Massive ice sheets were melted because of climate change, mainly because of many factors in daily life. There are significant damages to the environment from human activities, for example, the act of deforestation and burning fossil fuels. They’re producing carbon dioxide- A major heat-trapping component in greenhouse gases. Even natural events will produce carbon dioxide, including breathing, our vital means of receiving oxygen, and other large-scale events, including volcanic activities. They will release tons of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. These events are contributing to the global temperature- It’s increasing at an average of 0.8 degrees Celsius annually. If the annual melting of Greenland’s glaciers happens consistently, it’s expected that by the year 3000, the icy mountains of Greenland will vanish. Eventually, a completely ice-free Greenland will result. Thus, the melting of Greenland is occurring because of climate change caused by humans and other natural events.
Greenland’s Melting Will Eventually Affect Us
The melting of Greenland is happening faster than you think. Greenland’s ice sheets continue to decline because of climate change and global warming. Since the ice sheets in Antarctica and Greenland make up 99% of Earth’s frozen freshwater, an enormous amount of water will gush into lands if they all melt. It will affect us, humans, because melting of ice will cause sea levels to rise. The sea levels currently swell over nearly 3.2 mm annually. The melted ice from Greenland will lubricate the ice caps, causing all the melted ice and seawater to flow into the sea more quickly, destabilizing Greenland’s ice. According to research, the sea level will rise 33 cm by the year 3000 if all the ice of Greenland is melted. Consequently, dangerous flooding will occur on land, submerging the countries below sea levels in melted ice, for example, Denmark, the Netherlands, Mexico, etc. Rising sea levels not only cause flooding but also more typhoons and hurricanes. These disasters will make these countries unsuitable for people to live in. Not only humans will be affected- Even a tiny rise in sea levels can cause devastating effects to sea organisms. It contaminates the soil, impacts fish habitats, and destroys wetlands by erosion. Thus, Greenland’s ice melt can cause rising sea levels, then eventually harm humans and other organisms.
What Is The Solution?
To sum up, Greenland’s ice melt is not only concerning, but also results in many negative impacts on Earth. Although there’s no way to completely stop global warming, there are solutions to slow down the destruction. Here are some ways to reduce and slow down climate change: First, we need to reduce carbon dioxide which can be done by planting more trees. This method also recovers the loss of trees from deforestation. Second, you can eat more locally-grown food and eat green, which can reduce carbon dioxide because it avoids the transportation of food which uses trucks. Finally, you can save energy (electricity, hot water, etc.). These actions will help contribute to a better world.
This OpEd was written by U4SC Student Intern, Aaron.
[Image Attribute: Claire Rowland]