According to new satellite data analysis by a group of scientists, the Greenland ice sheet lost ice at a rate of 1 million metric tons per minute in 2019. This is the highest rate of ice melt recorded in Greenland. The findings were published in the journal Communications Earth & Environment and revealed that the Greenland ice sheet shrank by 532 billion metric tons in 2019 alone.

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The high rate of Greenland’s ice melt is attributed to the effects of climate change. The report shows that temperature rise in the Arctic has been double that of lower latitudes. This has led to the continued rapid melting of ice into the oceans. It is the melting ice sheets that are contributing the most to the rise in sea levels, posing threats to coastal cities.

Related: Greenland’s ice sheet lost 197 billion tons of ice in July

An analysis of the data, which dates back to 2003, shows that the amount of ice that melted in 2019 alone is nearly double the annual average since 2003. In past years, the Arctic lost an average of 255 billion metric tons of ice per year, while in 2019, 532 billion metric tons of ice were lost.

Although scientists knew that ice loss in Greenland was accelerating, they did not expect the drastic shift experienced in 2019. The scientists behind the study say that the melting experienced last year might be the biggest loss in centuries and possibly millennia.

According to Ingo Sasgen of the Alfred Wegener Institute in Bremerhaven, Germany and lead author of the study, the melting rate experienced in 2019 was “shocking and depressing. But it’s also not very surprising, because we had other strong melt years in 2010 and 2012, and I expect we will see more and more.”

Last year also saw a lower amount of snowfall, meaning less ice was added as more ice melted. Sasgen said, “The real message is that the ice sheet is strongly out of balance.”

+ Communications Earth & Environment

Via The Guardian

Image via Jean-Christophe ANDRE