Global warming has increased the speed at which glaciers in Greenland are melting by fivefold over the last 20 years, scientists from the University of Copenhagen said on Friday.
Greenland’s ice melt is of particular concern, as the ancient ice sheet holds enough water to raise sea levels by at least 20 feet (6 meters) if it were to melt away entirely.
A study of a thousand glaciers in the area showed the rate of melting has entered a new phase over the last two decades, Anders Anker Bjork, assistant professor at the department of geosciences and natural resource management at the University of Copenhagen told Reuters.
“There is a very clear correlation between the temperature we experience on the planet and the changes we observe in how rapidly the glaciers are melting,” Bjork said.
The glaciers on average decrease by 25 metres annually, compared with 5-6 metres around two decades ago, scientists concluded after studying the development of the glaciers over 130 years through satellite imagery and 200,000 old photos.
The world has already warmed by nearly 1.2C (2.2F) above pre-industrial temperatures, and 2023 is “virtually certain” to be the warmest in 125,000 years, scientists from the European Union said earlier this month.
Lowering temperatures would require a global effort to minimise greenhouse gases in the atmosphere, said Jørgen Eivind Olesen, Institute Director of the Climate Institute at Aarhus University.