Greenland Melts at Never-Before Seen Rates as Heat Wave That Baked Europe Moves North
Scientists say 2019's melt might be more extreme than the melt that broke records in 2012, when around 98 percent of Greenland's ice sheet experienced surface melting, The Washington Post reported. If the entire ice sheet melted, it would contribute 23 feet to global sea level rise.
That much melt won't happen right away. A recent study found that, if greenhouse gas emissions continue at current rates, it would still take a millennium for the ice sheet to melt entirely. That doesn't mean all of the consequences of today's melting will be delayed far into the future, however. The same study found the ice sheet would contribute as many as 63 inches to sea level rise in the next 200 years if emissions are not reduced, enough to flood Miami Beach, New Orleans and parts of New York and Boston, according to Grist.
And this summer's extreme melt could also have more immediate consequences. The fresh meltwater entering the North Atlantic could cause more storms in Northwest Europe, and the influx could raise global sea levels by more than one millimeter globally and two or more millimeters in the tropics, Geological Survey of Denmark and Greenland climatologist Jason Box told CNN.
"Whatever happens in Greenland radiates its impact down," Box said.
And what's happening in Greenland is unprecedented. Box told The Washington Post that two locations were recording more melt than in 2012. One, 75 miles east of the capital of Nuuk, had lost 8.33 feet of water as of Wednesday. The second, 497 miles north, had lost 7.38 feet, twice the average melt at that location over the last ten years.
Greenland's ice sheet measured its record surface temperature Wednesday and its record melt rate Thursday, losing 12.5 gigatons of ice, University of Liège polar scientist Xavier Fettweis tweeted.
Yesterday was the warmest day in recorded history on the Greenland ice sheet.— Eric Holthaus (@EricHolthaus) August 1, 2019
Today is its biggest melt day. More than 12 billion tons of water will have entered the ocean by tonight, permanently raising sea levels.
We are in a climate emergency.https://t.co/WUL0v2CW8O https://t.co/FnGMFZ1IsC
Polar researchers have posted some dramatic images of the heat wave on social media. Climate scientist Irina Overeem shared a video of meltwater rushing past a monitoring station she placed in Western Greenland eight years ago, as meteorologist Eric Holthaus reported for RollingStone.
"With the exceptional heat wave coming I have my fingers crossed for it not being washed away," she tweeted.
The Naujatkuat River in West Greenland running high in end of July, my gauging station is perched on the bedrock. With the exceptional heat wave coming I have my fingers crossed for it not being washed away. pic.twitter.com/JPofxDIELN— Irina Overeem (@IrinaOvereem) July 30, 2019
Meanwhile, researchers at Zackenberg Research Station in Northeast Greenland posted a photo of themselves in shorts, as temperatures passed a balmy 19 degrees Celsius Wednesday.
The recent #Greenland #heatwave has been felt most in the NE where very few peole live and we have very few observations, however the research station at Zackenberg is an exception - imporessive temperatures here! https://t.co/3wX2oIO5dx— Greenland (@greenlandicesmb) August 1, 2019
The heat and melting in Greenland is a frightening sign of the climate crisis: Ice core samples show that melt days like those seen this week occurred very rarely in the past thousand years, but global warming caused by the burning of fossil fuels is making them more likely, Holthaus wrote.
"This melt event is a good alarm signal that we urgently need change our way of living," Fettweis told Holthaus.
But if we do change, there is still hope we can stop the worst from happening. Scientists say melt in Greenland won't become irreversible until global temperatures reach 1.5 to two degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels.
"That means whether or not Greenland's ice sheet melts completely is almost entirely in human control: A full-scale mobilization — including rapidly transforming the basis of the global economy toward a future where fossil fuels are no longer used — would probably be enough to keep most of the remaining ice frozen, where it belongs," Holthaus concluded.
- 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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