Washington D.C.: A new study has revealed that a vast ice sheet in northeast Greenland has begun a phase of speeded-up ice loss, contributing to destabilization that will cause global sea-level rise for "decades to come."
A team of scientists from the University of Kansas found that since 2012 warmer air and sea temperatures have caused the Zachariae Isstrom ice sheet to "retreat rapidly along a downward-sloping, marine-based bed."
By itself, the Zachariae Isstrom glacier holds enough water to trigger a half-meter rise in ocean levels around the world.
The acceleration rate of its ice velocity tripled, melting of its residual ice shelf and thinning of its grounded portion doubled, and calving is occurring at its grounding line, the authors wrote.
Ice loss is happening fast in glaciological terms, but slow in human terms, not all in one day or one year, said associate scientist John Paden.
Within a few generations, ice loss could make a substantial difference in sea levels, Paden said, adding "When you add up all the glaciers that are retreating, it will make a difference to a large number of people. Sea level has increased some over the last century, but only a small number of people have been affected compared to what is likely to come."
The study appears in Science magazine.