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Picture of the Day

New research shows an iceless Greenland may be in the future

New research shows an iceless Greenland may be in the future. If worldwide greenhouse gas emissions remain on their current trajectory, Greenland may be ice-free by the year 3000. Even by the end of the century, the island could lose 4.5% of its ice, contributing up to 13 inches of sea level rise. The research uses new data on the landscape under the ice today to make breakthroughs in modeling the future. The findings show a wide range of scenarios for ice loss and sea level rise based on different projections for greenhouse gas concentrations and atmospheric conditions. Currently, the planet is moving toward the high estimates of greenhouse gas concentrations. Greenland's ice sheet is huge, spanning over 660,000 square miles. It is almost the size of Alaska and 80% as big as the U.S. east of the Mississippi River. Today, the ice sheet covers 81% of Greenland and contains 8% of Earth's fresh water. If greenhouse gas concentrations remain on the current path, the melting ice from Greenland alone could contribute as much as 24 feet to global sea level rise by the year 3000, which would put much of San Francisco, Los Angeles, New Orleans and other cities under water. However, if greenhouse gas emissions are cut significantly, that picture changes. Instead, by 3000 Greenland may lose 8% to 25% of ice and contribute up to approximately 6.5 feet of sea level rise. Between 1991 and 2015, Greenland's ice sheet has added about 0.02 inches per year to sea level, but that could rapidly increase. Projections for both the end of the century and 2200 tell a similar story: There are a wide range of possibilities, including saving the ice sheet, but it all depends on greenhouse gas emissions.

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