Climate change: Greenland's ice is melting faster than expected

Last updated at 16:04
greenland-icebergs.PA Media

Around 400 million people could be affected by coastal flooding each year if Greenland continues to lose ice at its current rate, scientists have warned.

A new study shows that Greenland's ice is melting faster than expected because of the effects of climate change and increasing temperatures.

Researchers say that unless changes are made to reduce the effects of global warming, sea levels could rise up to 67 centimetres by 2100.

A team of 96 polar scientists from 50 international organisations contributed to the findings published in the Nature journal.

The scientists studied satellite data of Greenland's ice sheets between 1992 and 2018.

They found that the region has lost 3.8 trillion tonnes of ice since 1992 - adding around 10.6 mm to the global sea levels.

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Why is Greenland's ice melting?

A rise in air and ocean temperatures has caused the surface ice to melt.

A key cause of this is climate change.

Interactive Qaleraliq glacier, southern Greenland

2018

Satellite image of Qaleraliq glacier, Greenland in 2018

1993

Satellite image of Qaleraliq glacier, Greenland in 1993

According to the researchers, Greenland stores enough water in its ice to raise global sea levels by six metres.

By studying how much of this ice is being lost scientists can begin to understand the effects and impact of climate change.

How does ice melting cause flooding?

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As ice melts it causes problems for countries all over the world.

For low-lying countries like Bangladesh, even a small rise in sea level can pose a real danger, with huge areas of the land being lost to the sea.

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If the ice starts melting even faster higher areas of land - for example Florida - may also be at risk over the next century.

Dr Andrew Shepherd, a professor of earth observation at the University of Leeds, said: "[Generally] for every centimetre rise in global sea level another six million people are exposed to coastal flooding around the planet.

"On current trends, Greenland's ice melting will cause 100 million people to be flooded each year by the end of the century, so 400 million in total due to all sea level rise.

"These are not unlikely events or small impacts; they are happening and will be devastating for coastal communities."

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