Part of the Greenland ice sheet may be close to a tipping point

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Accelerated soften. Credit: TiPES/HP

Data from the Jakobshavn drainage basin of the Central-Western Greenland ice sheet reveals that the distinct mark of this half of the ice sheet has reached a tipping point. That is the conclusion by Niklas Boers from Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research, Germany and Martin Rypdal from the Arctic University of Norway, after cautious research of the improvement in soften charges and ice-sheet peak adjustments throughout the final 140 years. The two authors suggest close monitoring of the Greenland ice sheet to assess the state of affairs. The work, revealed in PNAS at the moment, is a component of the TiPES undertaking, coordinated and led by the University of Copenhagen, Denmark, and the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research, Germany.

In the article, Rypdal and Boers have analyzed reconstructions of the peak adjustments of the Central-Western Greenland ice sheet since 1880, and have in contrast them to corresponding mannequin simulations. From the evaluation, they conclude that this half of the Greenland ice sheet is dropping stability, in line with the concept that it is extremely close to tipping into a state of accelerated melting, regardless of whether or not the Arctic warming pattern is halted in the coming a long time.

“We might be seeing the beginning of a large-scale destabilization, but at the moment, we cannot tell, unfortunately. So far, the signals we see are only regional, but that might simply be due to the scarcity of accurate and long-term data for other parts of the ice sheet,” says Dr. Niklas Boers.

An ice sheet can solely keep its measurement if the loss of mass from melting and calving glaciers is changed by snow falling onto its floor. The warming of the Arctic disturbs this mass stability as a result of the snow at the floor usually melts away in the hotter summers.

Melting will principally enhance at the decrease altitudes, however total, the ice sheet will shrink from a mass imbalance. Therefore, a constructive suggestions mechanism kicks in: as the ice sheet floor lowers, its floor is uncovered to increased common temperatures, main to extra melting, additional peak reductions, and correspondingly accelerated mass loss. Beyond a important threshold, this course of can’t be reversed, as a result of with decreased peak, a a lot colder local weather would be wanted for the ice sheet to regain its authentic measurement.

The instability that Boers and Rypdal have present in soften and reconstructed ice-sheet peak knowledge from the Central-Western Greenland ice sheet signifies that the important threshold has not less than regionally been reached due to the final 100 years of accelerated melting.

The enhance in floor soften will presumably be compensated not less than partly by will increase in snowfall as precipitation patterns over the ice sheet will change due to the altering ice-sheet peak.

However, if the Greenland ice sheet as a entire transits into accelerated melting there’ll be extreme penalties for the total planet. The Greenland ice sheet incorporates the mass equal to elevating international sea stage by 7 meters. A loss of the Greenland ice sheet can be anticipated to add to international warming due to reducing albedo in addition to disrupt main ocean currents, monsoon belts, rainforests, wind techniques and precipitation patterns.

“We need to monitor also the other parts of the Greenland ice sheet more closely, and we urgently need to better understand how different positive and negative feedbacks might balance each other, to get a better idea of the future evolution of the ice sheet,” says Niklas Boers, who along with Martin Rypdal expects to see accelerated melting in the close to future.


Greenland ice sheet faces irreversible melting


More data:
Niklas Boers el al., “Critical slowing down suggests that the western Greenland Ice Sheet is close to a tipping point,” PNAS (2021). www.pnas.org/cgi/doi/10.1073/pnas.2024192118

Provided by
University of Copenhagen


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Part of the Greenland ice sheet may be close to a tipping point (2021, May 17)
retrieved 18 May 2021
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