An irremediable disaster. Even if global warming stops, the already started melting of the Greenland ice cap will lead to a significant rise in sea levels, a forecast “alarming” and potentially underestimated, according to a study published in the journal Nature Climate ChangeMonday, August 29, 2022.
The study’s glaciologists found that current warming, independent of any additional pollution caused by fossil fuels, would result in a loss of at least 3.3% of the volume of the Greenland ice cap, an increase of 27, 4 centimeters from sea level.
Projections currently underestimated
The researchers, although unable to establish a precise timetable, say that most of this increase could occur by 2100. This means that current projections would be underestimated and that these should be taken seriously. “alarming predictions”.
These estimates are also a low limit because they do not take into account future warming, explained lead author Jason Box, from the National Geological Service of Denmark and Greenland (GEUS).
“This is a conservative lower limit. It is enough for the climate to continue to warm around Greenland for the effect to be greater,” he told theAFP. If the extreme levels of melting observed in 2012 were repeated every year, the rise in water could even reach about 78 cm, synonymous with submersion for vast areas of low altitude and their population.
Sea level rise, soon an urgent challenge
In its 2021 baseline report, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) estimated that under a worst-case scenario for greenhouse gas emissions, the melting of the Greenland Ice Sheet would contribute to a height of 18 cm in sea level rise by 2100. The other major source of sea level rise is the melting of the Antarctic ice cap.
For Jason Box, who was one of the authors of this report, his team’s latest research suggests that these estimates are “too weak”.
According to him, if climate change gives rise to more immediate threats, such as food insecurity, the acceleration of sea level rise will in turn become a challenge.
“It will be on the agenda in a few decades, because then it will start to displace more and more people,” did he declare.
In its 2022 report on climate impacts, the IPCC said that even if warming stabilizes between 2°C and 2.5°C, “coastlines will continue to reshape over millennia, potentially affecting at least 25 megacities and drowning out low-lying areas” where in 2010 up to 1.3 billion people lived.