The Greenland Ice Sheet, the world’s second-largest ice cap, has lost approximately 5,091 square kilometers of ice since 1985, according to a study published in the journal Nature. The research was conducted by scientists from the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, led by Chad Greene. The team analyzed satellite observations collected from 1985 to 2022, determining 236,328 positions of glacial termini.
Experts explain that ice caps worldwide have experienced retreat in recent decades, and the Greenland Ice Sheet has exhibited a significant decline in ice mass since the 1990s. Current climate models suggest that this loss will continue, but investigating past events could provide insight into future predictions.
In this study, scientists quantified changes in the ice sheet at the level of ice layers, total surface, and breaking processes. According to the findings, Greenland has lost about 5,091 square kilometers of ice in the last four decades, equivalent to 1,034 gigatons of ice. Specifically, the ice cap has reduced on average by 218 square kilometers each year since January 2000.
Experts emphasize that this amount of ice does not seem to have substantially contributed to sea-level rise, but it could impact ocean circulation patterns and the distribution of thermal energy. Researchers also discovered that the Jakobshavn Isbr and Zachari Isstrm glaciers experienced the most significant loss from 1985 to 2022. According to scientists, the seasonal variability of glaciers could be an effective predictor of long-term ice retreat.
The authors conclude that further research is necessary to develop new paradigms for predicting ice cap melting and the effects of ice loss in the near future.