A new data from the European Space Agency has claimed that Greenland lost 1 trillion tons of ice within a span of 4 years.
The ice loss in those four years alone, corresponds to a 0.75 mm contribution to global sea-level rise each year – about twice the average of the preceding two decades.
The latest data was gathered using the space agency’s CryoSat satellite combined with a regional climate model to map changes in Greenland ice-sheet mass.
CryoSat carries a radar altimeter that can measure the surface height variation of ice in fine detail, allowing scientists to record changes in its volume with unprecedented accuracy.
According to the researchers, it is the most detailed picture to date of ice loss in Greenland.
Over the last century, Greenland has lost about 9 trillion tons of ice to melting, according to the Chicago Tribune.
The ice melt on Greenland may be responsible for as much as 10 percent of overall sea level rise since the 1990s, the Chicago Tribune also said.
And while there can be minor fluctuations in Greenland’s ice cover each year, the trend clearly shows the land mass’s ice is vanishing faster than we’ve seen in recent memory, and it’s going to lead to a big rise in sea levels.
“Simplistically, if the ice sheet’s going up, we can find that as evidence that the ice sheet is growing,” said lead author Malcolm McMillan, a research fellow at the University of Leeds. “And where we see that the ice sheet surface is lowering, we can find that the ice sheet is losing ice.”
But he cautioned that this is something of a simplification. The researchers also had to consider how other factors such as snowfall — which would be difficult to differentiate by satellite — might be affecting changes on the surface of the ice sheet.
The new study takes a detailed look at ice loss in Greenland between 2011 and 2014 using measurements from the CryoSat-2, an environmental research satellite launched by the European Space Agency in 2010.
It relied on a type of measurement known as altimetry — basically, measuring how the surface of Greenland’s altitude changed over time in response to ice gains or losses.