After news of a huge block of ice, the size of Delaware, breaking off from one of Antarctica's ice shelves two weeks ago, more bad news comes from Greenland, where scientists are fearing a faster melting of the ice sheet than previously suspected.
When ice melting projections were designed, researchers failed to take into consideration one aspect: the biological darkening of the ice through algae growth, stimulated by the unusually warm weather and stimulating, in turn, faster melting. Darker ice sheets absorb more sun than white ones, thus speeding up melting and leading to faster sea level rises than estimated.
This is no easy feat: Greenland's ice sheet is enormous (around 1.7 million square kilometers wide, and up to 3 kilometers thick). If the current projections are correct, this massive quantity would significantly increase the known rate of 1mm per year added to the rise of ocean levels. And, although it seems far away and lacking any immediate impact on our lives, ocean level changes originating in Greenland will be felt as far as Miami and Shanghai.
While there are no direct measures that can be taken to limit the damage, this finding stresses the dangers of global warming and the possibility that environmental estimates may err on the cautious side.