Los Alamos National Laboratory

Los Alamos National Laboratory

Delivering science and technology to protect our nation and promote world stability

An Ice Sheet’s Demise

Greenland was once lush green tundra and will be so again as its melting ice sheet submerges the world’s coastlines. (And by the way, Antarctica’s ice sheet 
is nearly ten times bigger.)
December 1, 2016
Digram of the globe highlighting Greenland seen in a drop of water frozen at the top and melting at the bottom

If the Greenland ice sheet melts, as climate projections predict, global sea level will rise more than 20 feet, submerging coastal cities and low-lying lands.

Global mean sea level has risen nearly 8 inches since 1870, including 3.5 inches just since satellite data collection
started in 1993. 

A wide range of possible carbon-emission scenarios and their corresponding climate trajectories, with very few exceptions, consistently agree about one thing: The massive Greenland ice sheet—accounting for about 8 percent of all the world’s fresh water and measuring longer from north to south than the continental United States—will melt into the ocean. The process could take thousands of years, but sometime this century, the human race is expected to make the vast majority of this melt inevitable.

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