Greenland's Ice Sheet Is Melting at Some of Its Fastest Rates in Past 12,000 Years, Study Says

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“What happens to Greenland's ice sheet and others around the globe will determine what the future holds for the millions of people living along the world's coasts,” CNN reports.

The rate at which Greenland's ice sheet is melting is even more alarming than experts initially thought, according to a study published in the journal Nature. The study, published on, says rate of melting in Greenland today already threatens to exceed anything that country has experienced in the last 12,000 years.

In 2019, Greenland lost more ice last year than in any year on record, and the melting has accelerated rapidly since the 1990s.

"We know there's a lot of year-to-year variability, so what we were interested in doing is capturing the more meaningful trends over decades and maybe up to a century," Jason Briner, a professor of geology at the University at Buffalo and the lead author of the study, told CNN. "And when you do that, and think about the direction that Greenland is heading this century, it's pretty clear we're in quite anomalous times."

He said that melting seen in the country today is driven primarily by greenhouse gas emissions and says that at the rate Greenland is going, more than 35,900 billion tons of ice potentially lost by the end of this century.

Some of Greenland’s alarming melting could be curbed if the world does stick to their plan and cut emissions by 2050 and ice losses this century could be held to 8,800 billion tons, CNN reported. While sea levels will rise an inch due to the amount of ice melted by then, it is more manageable than the four inches it could raise.

"Humanity has the knobs, and we can turn those knobs to decide what the ice sheet is going to do," Briner said.