Greenland has had quite a few melting events in the last couple of years, and 2021 is no exception. In a single day, just last week, enough ice was melted to cover the entire state of Florida with two inches of water.
In fact, it is currently the third biggest amount of ice lost in a single day with only 2017 and 2019 exceeding it. And once again, take note that these events have happened in a span of five years.
It’s a very clear indication that our climate is changing and the problem is only getting more severe.
How Significant is the Melting in Greenland?
To put it bluntly, it’s massive.
Currently, we are at the peak of the melting season, and temperatures in the arctic region are soaring. On just Tuesday, July 27th, Greenland lost 8.5 billion tons of mass. And over the full week, 18.4 billion tons were lost.
It is melting at an extremely fast rate that is unprecedented. And it is directly putting coastal regions at higher flood risk. This is because as the ice melts, the sea level rises, and the recent flooding events are only strengthening this connection.
It will cost these regions billions to build up the proper infrastructure, but even then there’s a limit.
After all, there is enough ice in Greenland that it could raise the sea level by 20 feet if fully melted. This would completely submerge some islands and coastal regions, like Florida.
Granted, even with the accelerated melting rate, it could still take a thousand years.
It’s Not the Size of the Melting, It’s the Frequency
Even though this is a significant melting event in size, the real issue is that these events are happening frequently.
These major melting events are definitely a problem, but they could be recoverable if they were less numerous. Again, the three biggest melting events in Greenland’s history have occurred within the last five years.
And according to research on this topic, the frequency will continue to increase and the location will become more erratic.
Or in other words, different parts of the ice sheet will melt. This might not necessarily sound like a bad thing, but it’s actually one of the worst things that could happen. This is because the ice sheet is more susceptible to breaking.
As a result, the damage to the ice sheet is now irreversible.
So, What Happens Now?
Even if the temperature stopped increasing, it would still be too hot to maintain the ice sheet.
Instead, the temperature would have to go down, which is extremely unlikely. The current climate plan is for the world to reach net-zero emissions. For most nations, this will be by 2050, if pledges are followed.
That said, this doesn’t actually remove the carbon already in our atmosphere, which means the temperature is locked in place.
It would require a negative carbon even of tremendous scale to actually roll back the temperature increase. One that is not possible with current technology. And without a doubt, the world will be hotter than it is now by the time we achieve a net-zero world.
That is if we ever do.
Robert has been following and writing about environmental stories for years at GreenGeeks. He believes that highlighting environmentally friendly practices can help promote change in every household.