Melting Greenland Could Raise Sea Levels by 20 Feet
By Madison Feser
Two miles thick and covering an area seven times the size of the United Kingdom, Greenland's ice sheet is huge. It's also melting.
As the ice melts, it gives way to water, which is darker and absorbs far more sunlight, causing more ice to melt in a vicious cycling.
Even worse is the proliferation of dark colored algae, which warm weather has allowed to flourish.
In general, the white color of snow reflects nearly 90 percent of the sun's radiation, but the dark colored algae reflects only around 35 percent, and sometimes drops to a dangerous 1 percent in the darkest colored spots.
Sea level fears as #Greenland darkens https://t.co/bB9CEupyqj @Glacier_Albedo @BristolUni #NERCresearch https://t.co/sBYpogWyza— NERC (@NERC)1500966961.0
At the current rate of melting, the ice sheet adds 1 millimeter a year to the global average sea level. Using these numbers, the UN Climate Change panel reported in 2013 that, worst case scenario, Greenland's melting ice sheets would raise water levels 98 centimeters, or 3.2 feet, by the end of the century.
And now, it seems, that assessment is too modest.
Glaciologist Dr. Andrew Tedstone told BBC that the algae has not even reached maximum darkness, and melting will get worse.
Satellites see unprecedented Greenland ice sheet surface melt.Nicolo E. DiGirolamo, SSAI/NASA GSFC, and Jesse Allen, NASA Earth Observatory
"When we say the ice sheet is melting faster, no one saying it's all going to melt in next decade or the next 100 years or even the next 1,000 years but it doesn't all have to melt for more people to be in danger," he said. "Only a small amount has to melt to threaten millions in coastal communities around world."
However, if the whole ice sheet does melt, sea levels across the world would rise by more than 20 feet.
The UK-based research project, Black and Bloom, is investigating different species of algae and their spread, hoping to limit their impact in Greenland.
But while Black and Bloom is working to combat algae and dark spots, yet another environmental factor is contributing to increased rates of melting.
Stefan Hofer, a PhD student at Bristol, found that decreased cloud cover over the area has caused two-thirds of recent melting.
After analysis satellite imagery, Hofer published a report arguing that over the last 20 years, cloud cover over Greenland has decreased by 15 percent in the summer months.
Lack of cloud cover increases surface temperature on the ice and may foster the growth of more dark algae, both of which accelerate the ice sheet's melting.
In two years, Black and Bloom, plans to release new figures on sea levels rising based on their research at the Greenland ice sheet.
Greenland is not the only ice sheet at risk of climate change.
Earlier this summer, a trillion-ton iceberg the size of Delaware broke off from Antarctica. The iceberg was part of larger ice shelf that, should if collapse, will raise sea levels substantially. Temperatures in Antarctica have been increasing at a faster rate than the rest of the world, weakening ice throughout the region.
Scientists Alarmed as Delaware-Sized Iceberg Breaks Off Antarctic Ice Shelf https://t.co/BnzKLldQbW @SierraClub @ClimateReality @350— EcoWatch (@EcoWatch)1499874528.0
Even the glaciers in Montana's Glacier National Park are fading away. Over the last 50 years, 39 of the park's glaciers have melted by 85 percent. In the 19th century, the park was home to 150 glaciers, but today only 26 remain
Reposted with permission from our media associate Global Citizen.
- Redwoods are the world's tallest trees.
- Now scientists have discovered they are even bigger than we thought.
- Using laser technology they map the 80-meter giants.
- Trees are a key plank in the fight against climate change.
They are among the largest trees in the world, descendants of forests where dinosaurs roamed.
Pixabay / Simi Luft<p><span>Until recently, measuring these trees meant scaling their 80 meter high trunks with a tape measure. Now, a team of scientists from University College London and the University of Maryland uses advanced laser scanning, to create 3D maps and calculate the total mass.</span></p><p>The results are striking: suggesting the trees <a href="https://www.nature.com/articles/s41598-020-73733-6" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">may be as much as 30% larger than earlier measurements suggested.</a> Part of that could be due to the additional trunks the Redwoods can grow as they age, <a href="https://www.nature.com/articles/s41598-020-73733-6" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">a process known as reiteration</a>.</p>
New 3D measurements of large redwood trees for biomass and structure. Nature / UCL<p>Measuring the trees more accurately is important because carbon capture will probably play a key role in the battle against climate change. Forest <a href="https://www.wri.org/blog/2020/09/carbon-sequestration-natural-forest-regrowth" target="_blank">growth could absorb billions of tons</a> of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere each year.</p><p>"The importance of big trees is widely-recognised in terms of carbon storage, demographics and impact on their surrounding ecosystems," the authors wrote<a href="https://www.nature.com/articles/s41598-020-73733-6" target="_blank"> in the journal Nature</a>. "Unfortunately the importance of big trees is in direct proportion to the difficulty of measuring them."</p><p>Redwoods are so long lived because of their ability to <a href="https://www.nature.com/articles/s41598-020-73733-6" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">cope with climate change, resist disease and even survive fire damage</a>, the scientists say. Almost a fifth of their volume may be bark, which helps protect them.</p>
Carbon Capture Champions<p><span>Earlier research by scientists at Humboldt University and the University of Washington found that </span><a href="https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0378112716302584" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Redwood forests store almost 2,600 tonnes of carbon per hectare</a><span>, their bark alone containing more carbon than any other neighboring species.</span></p><p>While the importance of trees in fighting climate change is widely accepted, not all species enjoy the same protection as California's coastal Redwoods. In 2019 the world lost the equivalent of <a href="https://www.worldwildlife.org/threats/deforestation-and-forest-degradation" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">30 soccer fields of forest cover every minute</a>, due to agricultural expansion, logging and fires, according to The Worldwide Fund for Nature (WWF).</p>
Pixabay<p>Although <a href="https://c402277.ssl.cf1.rackcdn.com/publications/1420/files/original/Deforestation_fronts_-_drivers_and_responses_in_a_changing_world_-_full_report_%281%29.pdf?1610810475" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">the rate of loss is reported to have slowed in recent years</a>, reforesting the world to help stem climate change is a massive task.</p><p><span>That's why the World Economic Forum launched the Trillion Trees Challenge (</span><a href="https://www.1t.org/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">1t.org</a><span>) and is engaging organizations and individuals across the globe through its </span><a href="https://uplink.weforum.org/uplink/s/uplink-issue/a002o00000vOf09AAC/trillion-trees" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Uplink innovation crowdsourcing platform</a><span> to support the project.</span></p><p>That's backed up by research led by ETH Zurich/Crowther Lab showing there's potential to restore tree coverage across 2.2 billion acres of degraded land.</p><p>"Forests are critical to the health of the planet," according to <a href="https://www.1t.org/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">1t.org</a>. "They sequester carbon, regulate global temperatures and freshwater flows, recharge groundwater, anchor fertile soil and act as flood barriers."</p><p><em data-redactor-tag="em" data-verified="redactor">Reposted with permission from the </em><span><em data-redactor-tag="em" data-verified="redactor"><a href="https://www.weforum.org/agenda/2021/03/redwoods-store-more-co2-and-are-more-enormous-than-we-thought/" target="_blank">World Economic Forum</a>.</em></span></p>
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