The more Greenland melts, the more Greenland melts. Here's why.
- The Arctic right is currently warming about twice as fast as the rest of the world.
- Ice is white and bright and is able to reflect solar energy back into space. When it melts and exposes dark, open ocean, that open ocean absorbs more sunlight and more energy. This creates a kind of feedback loop.
- The darkness absorbs more solar energy — more sunlight. In turn, this accelerates the melt of the ice.
The ice sheets in Greenland and Antarctica are remnants of the ice age. They're also the wild cards of climate science.
- The science of glaciology and ice sheets is quite new, as methods to measure melting glaciers were only realized with the advent of aviation and lasers.
- The world's sea levels are rising 3mm per year, and of that Greenland's ice sheet contributes 1mm – it is losing between 250 to 300 billion tons of ice per year. Three millimeters total is not much, but ice sheets don't always operate in a linear fashion.
- No human has ever witnessed an ice sheet collapse. It is also such a rare event that models cannot accurately predict what the effect will be. Can we halt global warming before we reach that tipping point?
There are clues to the future and past trapped in Greenland's ice.
- The Greenland ice sheet covers 80% of the island of Greenland. The sheet is 1,500 miles long, 700 miles across, and two miles thick. Scientists call it the largest laboratory in the world.
- By studying the minerals and gasses trapped in layers of ice, glaciologists can unravel mysteries of the past, such as what the temperature was 1,000 years ago, or search for clues as to why the Greenland Norse people vanished.
- Ice cores are a key to the past that also unlocks the future. Studying Greenland's ice sheet is yielding valuable information about the future of climate change.