The Greenland ice sheet, the Earth's second largest after Antarctica, holds enough ice that if it were to melt entirely, would raise average global sea level by about seven metres, or almost 23 feet.
Melting ice in Greenland is linked to faster warming of the Arctic compared to the rest of the Northern Hemisphere, says a study. The findings showed that the predicted effects of faster warming of the Arctic -- a phenomenon known as Arctic amplification -- as described in previous studies, occurred over northern Greenland during summer 2015.
‘The predicted effects of faster warming of the Arctic - a phenomenon known as Arctic amplification - as described in previous studies, occurred over northern Greenland during summer 2015.’
"During the past two decades, we have seen increasing melt from the Greenland ice sheet, culminating in a very large melt event in the summer of 2012," said study co-author Thomas Mote, professor at University of Georgia in the US.
"Last year was unique in the extensive melting that occurred on the northern reaches of the ice sheet, an area that usually has rather modest melt compared to southern Greenland. We identified an unusual configuration of the jet stream toward northern Greenland that led to this melt pattern," Mote noted.
The study was published in the journal Nature Communications
. Learning more about the drivers of melting is essential to discerning how much sea level will rise and by how much in the future and how Greenland's freshwater runoff will affect ocean circulation and ecology.
"How much and where Greenland melts can change depends on how things change elsewhere on Earth," the study's lead author Marco Tedesco, research professor at Columbia University's Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory and adjunct scientist at NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies, said.
"If loss of sea ice is driving changes in the jet stream, the jet stream is changing Greenland, and this, in turn, has an impact on the Arctic system as well as the climate. It's a system, it is strongly interconnected, and we have to approach it as such," Tedesco explained.